On 7 October, 2023, a ‘surprise’ attack was launched by Hamas militants against Israel, breaching the Israeli security barrier (Iron Dome) at multiple locations, storming military sites, and capturing soldiers and civilians. The attack included the launch of thousands of homemade rockets towards Israeli cities and settlements. The Israeli government has reported that Hamas militants killed up to 1,200 Israeli civilians and soldiers and abducted up to 200 Israeli hostages to the Gaza Strip.
Fake stories about babies
However, there has been a propagation of untrue atrocity stories by the Israeli government and Western media, such as the story of 40 decapitated babies, which was later debunked by independent media outlets.
Such propaganda is nothing new.
Babies have often been used in wartime narratives to generate emotional responses and rally support against the ‘enemy’ (in this case, Hamas).
World War I
In World War I, stories were circulated about German soldiers committing atrocities against Belgian citizens, including babies. Tales of babies being impaled on bayonets and their hands being cut off were widely circulated. These stories were later discredited, showing that they were exaggerated or fabricated to generate animosity against Germany.
During the Vietnam War, there were reports of American soldiers throwing Vietnamese babies in the air and catching them on their bayonets. These stories were later debunked, but they served to fuel anti-American sentiments during the war.
In the lead-up to the Gulf War in 1990, a young Kuwaiti girl testified, before the US Congress, that she had witnessed Iraqi soldiers taking babies out of incubators in a Kuwaiti hospital, leaving them to die on the cold floor. It was later revealed that the girl was the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the US, and her testimony was orchestrated by a public relations firm. The story was used to create pro-American support for the Gulf War.
Syrian Civil War
In the Syrian Civil War, images and stories of suffering children have been used by Western media outlets to garner anti-Assad sentiment. While some of these stories are true, there have been numerous instances where images or stories were either staged or exaggerated to manipulate public opinion.
Second Sino-Japanese War
During the Nanking Massacre, there were reports of Japanese soldiers committing horrific acts against Chinese civilians, including babies. Some of these stories were exaggerated or fabricated to generate hatred against the Japanese. While atrocities did occur, the use of propaganda, including the exploitation of babies, was prevalent to mobilise anti-Japanese sentiment.
Israel versus Palestine
In response to the Hamas attack, the Israeli military conducted large-scale airstrikes and prepared for a possible ground invasion of the Gaza Strip. Israeli airstrikes have reportedly killed up to 3,000 Palestinian civilians, including children, and caused significant damage to civilian facilities such as churches, mosques, and schools. The Israeli government also declared a full siege on Gaza, cutting off electricity and water supplies to its 2.5 million citizens.
While there is evidence of mistreatment of hostages by Hamas, there is also evidence of Israeli soldiers and civilians, including children, being killed by friendly Israeli gunfire and hand grenades.
There is a clear discrepancy between the crimes actually committed by Hamas militants and the atrocity propaganda stories promoted by the Israeli government and Western media. For example, there is currently no verifiable evidence supporting the claims of mass rapes or decapitations.
The Israeli military’s response to the Hamas ‘surprise’ attack has been massive, leading to an international backlash against the Israeli government.
In some cases, the Israeli government has denied responsibility for unncessary carnage, shifting the blame to, for exmaple, misfired Palestinian rockets. Video evidence, however, indicates that certain attacks, such as the one on the Gaza Baptist Hospital, were the result of Israeli airstrikes.
Hugo does a great job in navigating the fog of war propaganda.