Thursday, May 23, 2024

Despite Israeli denials, ‘Hamas beheaded babies’ headlines persist, many Indian journalists among fake news spreaders

Despite international journalists and news agencies debunking allegations that Palestinian resistance group Hamas “beheaded babies” in Israel, the claim continues to make headlines in Israeli, Western and Indian media, receiving millions of social media views.

Even as thousands of people have been killed in the conflict between the Israeli army and Gaza-based Hamas’ armed wing, the Qassam Brigades, the disinformation front of the conflict persists on social media.

Israeli news channel i24 alleged on Tuesday that the Qassam Brigades, “beheaded many Israeli babies” during Saturday’s attack.

But when Anadolu Agency contacted the Israeli military over the phone to ask about the claims, their spokesperson unit said: “We have seen the news, but we do not have any details or confirmation about that.”

Right-wing news channel Republic, with a correspondent in Israel, published a report titled “Disturbing information comes to light, suggesting Hamas beheaded babies.” It reported that Israeli soldiers and media had discovered “bodies of babies with their heads cut off.”

NDTV republished a report from ANI, citing i24 News as its source, which stated: “In one of the blood-curdling details from the Hamas attack on Israel, at least 40 babies were killed by the terror group…” Soldiers “arrived already expecting the worst, but the scenes were beyond imagination.”

The Times of India reported that Israeli officials and journalists “were left in shock as Hamas terrorists brutally killed 40 babies.”

Times Now’s website featured a report with the headline “Israel-Hamas war horror: 40 babies killed by militants, some beheaded.”

Hindutva websites Swarajya and OpIndia picked up the story from i24 News.

Several Hindu nationalist journalists, including TV9 Network executive editor Aditya Raj Kaul and Sudarshan News’ Suresh Chahvanke, shared this false information on X.

Fact-checkers and Muslim activists have pointed out that even some ‘liberal journalists’ critical of India’s right-wing also propagated this false information. Prominent journalists such as Barkha Dutt and award-winning journalist Rohini Singh were among those who shared this news on X. While the Muslim activists expressed concern about the misinformation, they did not delete their posts.

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