In the year 2023, sifting through the barrage of conflicting media reports from biased sources juxtaposed against one another in an all out information war makes arriving at the truth all but impossible. As if that political climate isn't hard enough to deal with to begin, the dilemma it presents is exponentially amplified when placed into the crucible of one of the most polarized geopolitical issues in modern history between Israel and Palestine. As such, the intensity of the propaganda emanating from each side conveys the increased diligence needed to separate fact from fiction at a time where emotion reactions are driving people's perceptions.
Given that backdrop, the recent claim from the Israeli Defense Forces that it uncovered a decapitation of women and infants by Hamas during its assault on the Kfar Aza kibbutz just 5 miles east of Gaza has been met with as much skepticism as outrage. In the wake of calls to bring clarity to dismiss the doubts about the horrific claim, comments from IDF spokesman Major Nir Dinar succinctly summarized the echo chamber dynamic that has led to supporters of Israel's cause accepting the report without any evidence. The IDF spokesperson boldly declared that the Israeli military won't seek further evidence backing up its claim about the mass infanticide it asserts was perpetrated by the terrorist group Hamas because doing so would be "disrespectful for the dead."
It was Dinar himself that first confirmed the reports made to journalist Nicole Zedeck of Israeli news outlet i24News. Zedeck took to her account on X to elucidate her report by stating she had based it on statements made by IDF soldiers directly to her. The rationale she gave about her sources was echoed by Dinar, who like Zedeck did not acknowledge seeing and first hand evidence of the claim, instead deferring to the statements made by IDF soldiers who responded to the massacre at the kibbutz. When asked about whether or not he had seen any photographic or videographic evidence of the beheadings, Dinar said he had not and that his rationale on the veracity of the report was that "soldiers on the ground who are there told me this."
Soldiers told me they believe 40 babies/children were killed. The exact death toll is still unknown as the military continues to go house to house and find more Israeli casualties. https://t.co/PEGSFXgb9x— Nicole Zedeck (@Nicole_Zedek) October 10, 2023
What further clouded the steadfast believe Israeli officials placed in the report was Dinar's statement that "We can not confirm any numbers. What happened in Kibbutz Kfar Aza is a massacre in which women children, toddlers and elderly were brutally butchered in an ISIS way of action." which in and of itself contradicts the specificity of the commander on site at the kibbutz who told i24news' Zedeck that at least 40 babies were found to have been killed. In addition to statements made to Zedeck, i24News anchor Laura Cellier stated that her network was "told by 3 separate IDF officials that around 40 babies & small children were murdered in Kfar Aza, some burned, some beheaded."
i24News being the initial point of contact for these reports from IDF soldiers offers another layer of complexity itself. The network has been maligned for the pro-Netanyahu bias it cultivated in order to receive its broadcast license in Israeli. To do so, executives cultivated a strategy of being less critical of the Israeli Prime Minister in order to make the airwaves. In doing so, the station debased itself to the point where one former executive stated that i24News is "not even a propaganda channel for Israel" but that it specifically operates as "a pro-Bibi channel.”
While confirming claims such as those made by soldiers at Kibbutz Kfar Afa is no easy task during the chaos following the onset of full scale war, the absence of any accountability from the IDF is clear cause for concern. That red flag is especially glaring considering the apparent documentation of IDF soldier at the Kibbutz in contact with media outlets. When pressed for clarification, Major Dinar only increased his doublespeak by stating "We're not going to investigate the condition of bodies and even if we did we won't comment publicly about the condition of our civilians's bodies." despite the fact that his initial statement on the massacre did that very such thing in publicly revealing the alleged decapitations of victims whose bodies were found at the kibbutz.
💥 Israel appears to confirm Hamas beheadings. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to soldiers: "Whoever comes here to decapitate – we will wipe out." pic.twitter.com/MuScnYULG6— Noga Tarnopolsky נגה טרנופולסקי نوغا ترنوبولسكي💙 (@NTarnopolsky) October 10, 2023
An interesting coincidence that would fit the axiom that the truth is often stranger than fiction draws a parallel between the statements made by the IDF about victims at Kibbutz Kfar Afa and one of the most sensational claims to emerge during the First Gulf War. Following the onset of war between the US and Iraq, a 15-year-old girl referred to solely by her first name "Nayirah" testified before the United States Congressional Human Rights Caucus. During her testimony, Nayirah recounted witnessing Iraqi soldiers at the front lines of their invasion of Kuwait remove babies from incubators in the natal ward of a Kuwaiti hospital just so that they could mercilessly be left to die. Her testimony became a pillar of the moral justification that the Bush administration used to garner support for its war effort against Saddam Hussein.
Although her testimony was initially corroborated by Amnesty International, the British NGO was forced to recant their endorsement of in 1992 when Nayirah's anonymity was shattered after she was exposed by the the daughter of Kuwaiti Ambassador To The United States Saud Al-Sabah. The ambassador helped concoct his daughter's testimony as part of a public relations campaign led by the group Citizens For A Free Kuwait which was led by the American public relations firm Hill & Kowlton in concert with the Kuwaiti government. Nayirah's false testimony would become the face of what political scientists now categorize as atrocity propaganda for the shameless depravity she stooped to in order to advance the bellicose cause of the US as it entered into the middle eastern theater of war it finds itself enmeshed in to this day.
The Nayirah testimony about babies being killed in incubators by Iraqi soldiers hoax was made on 10/10/90. Yesterday’s “40 babies beheaded” story was 33 years to the day. 🤔 pic.twitter.com/I6cEVTCVcT— blueapples (@ashesofacacia) October 11, 2023
That testimony took place on October 10th, 1990, 33 years to the day that the IDF claims it uncovered a mass beheading of women and infants at Kibbutz Kfar Afa. While that timing can be construed as nothing more than a coincidence, it echoes the ageless quote of the Greek philosopher Aeschylus, known through the annals of history as "the father of tragedy", who said that “the first casuality of war is the truth.”