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Biden ditched staff advice to dismiss fake news on ‘Hamas beheading babies’

US President Joe Biden delivers a speech in Massachusetts, November 26, 2023. (AFP)

President Joe Biden of the United States has reportedly ignored his staff’s advice to “cut a line about Hamas beheading babies because those reports were unverified.”

Shortly after the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas began Operation Al-Aqsa Storm on October 7, Biden made a controversial comment that the White House later walked back — that he had seen “confirmed pictures of terrorists beheading children.”

In response to that operation, Israel launched an air and ground offensive in the Gaza Strip. The regime has killed over 15,000 people in Gaza ever since.

Citing White House officials, The Washington Post reported Sunday that as Biden prepared his pro-Israel October 10 address, Vice President Kamala Harris suggested he should add a line to the speech denouncing Islamophobia.

“Harris cited the way Islamophobia had dogged the Muslim and Arab communities for years after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Biden took the suggestion,” the newspaper quoted officials as saying.

“But he rejected others, for instance dismissing the recommendation of some staffers that he cut a line about Hamas beheading babies because those reports were unverified.”

Biden was echoing a statement made that same day by a spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — that babies and toddlers were found with their “heads decapitated” in Kfar Aza, a kibbutz.

The next day, Israel said it could not confirm the report by Netanyahu’s office. The US president, however, repeated the remarks.

“I never really thought that I would see, have confirmed pictures of terrorists beheading children,” Biden said on October 18.

Israel’s military spokesman Doron Spielman told NBC News at the time, “That specific report and that number I can’t confirm.”

And in mid-November, Biden said at a news conference, “Children slaughtered. Babies slaughtered. Entire families massacred. Rape, beheadings, bodies burned alive.”

The US president’s remarks, featured on the front pages of Western newspapers, were increasingly blamed for a sharp rise of hate crimes and Islamophobia across the US. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) said at the time that “anti-Palestinian rhetoric… has contributed to this unprecedented surge in bigotry.”

CAIR made the statement in response to the gruesome murder of a six-year-old Muslim boy in Chicago, at the hands of the 71-year-old landlord, who stabbed the child 26 times, as he was yelling, “You Muslims must die!”

“This young boy has paid the price for the bigotry and hatred that others have spread,” CAIR said. 

Biden sparked controversy again, when he voiced skepticism on October 25 about the Gaza death toll provided by the health ministry there. The following day, the president met with five prominent Muslim Americans who protested his insensitivity to the civilian deaths.

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