The news that the militant group Hamas beheaded 40 Israeli babies during its attack has been widely shared online. The verification of “Faktoje” revealed that this figure remains unconfirmed by the Israeli army and is a misinterpretation of reports from the field by the Israeli media.
In social networks, including Albanian-speaking ones, the news is spreading that, during the conflict in Gaza, which started on October 7, the militant group Hamas has beheaded 40 Israeli children. A video of this news, posted on Facebook by the Ntv Television portal, has been viewed over 100,000 times. The TV announcer also presents images of the victims, which have been blurred by the news director.
This news has been widely shared and repeated by the world media over the last few days. The unsupported claim of dozens of child beheadings gained attention after live news reporting by Nicole Zedeck, a correspondent for i24NEWS based in Israel, who was reporting from the scenes of the previous day’s massacre in the Israeli settlement of Kfar Aza. In videos the news service posted on X on Oct. 10, Zedeck said Israeli soldiers told her what they saw.
In one clip, she said that “at least about 40 babies”, who had died, according to a commander, “were taken out in body bags”. In another clip, she said the babies “had their heads cut off, they said” – but she never mentioned a number.
The claim of “40 beheaded babies” appears to be a combination of those two separate details that Zedeck relayed during the live broadcasts. She did not make this claim herself, as the social media video falsely claims.
The devastating news was immediately shared around the world, and even US President Joe Biden said on October 11, in his statement in support of Israel: “I never thought I would see, I would have confirmed photos of terrorists cut off the children’s heads.”
However, on October 12, the White House retracted these claims. Asked by the Washington Post, a White House spokesman said that “US officials and President Biden have not seen the photos or independently confirmed these reports. The president based his comments on the alleged massacres on claims by [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu’s spokesman and media reports from Israel.”
Indeed, Tal Heinrich, a spokeswoman for Netanyahu, said on October 11 that babies and children had been found “with severed heads” in the Kfar Aza settlement after Hamas attacks.
However, the Israeli government has not confirmed the specific claim that Hamas attackers beheaded 40 children during the October 7 surprise attack, an Israeli official told CNN. “There have been cases of Hamas militants carrying out beheadings and other ISIS-style massacres. However, we cannot confirm whether the victims were men or women, soldiers or civilians, adults or children,” he said.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Hamas denied these claims. Izzat al-Risheq, a senior official and spokesman for the militant group, said the international media had “spread lies about the Palestinian people and the resistance claiming that members of the Palestinian resistance have beheaded children and attacked women without any evidence to support these kinds of claims and lies.”
However, al-Risheq’s claim that Hamas has not attacked women is false. Women, children and the elderly in the settlements of Kfar Aza and Be’eri were killed during the surprise attack. Videos verified by CNN show women who were at the festival targeted by Hamas on October 7 being kidnapped.
CNN has sifted through hundreds of hours of video posted online trying to verify the alleged massacres by Hamas. However, their team has not seen anything to confirm the claims of severed-headed children. CNN also visited the ruins of Kfar Aza and saw no evidence of children being beheaded.