White House walks back Biden comments that he had seen pictures of beheaded Israeli children

Biden says he has seen ‘confirmed pictures of terrorists beheading children’

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Thursday 12 October 2023 05:43 BST
Bombs drop on Gaza throughout night

The White House was forced to walk back on president Joe Biden's claim to have seen "confirmed pictures" of "terrorists beheading children" in Israel.

The Israel Defence Force previously claimed that at least 40 babies were killed in the Kfar Aza kibbutz over the weekend when the Hamas militant group launched an attack on Israel.

The army later clarified to Anadolu news agency that there was "no information confirming" allegations that "Hamas beheaded babies".

Speaking at a roundtable of Jewish community leaders in Washington, Mr Biden said: "I never really thought that I would see, have confirmed pictures of terrorists beheading children."

But later, in a clarification issued to The Washington Post, the White House said that the president or US officials had not seen pictures or confirmed such reports independently.

President Biden based his comments about the alleged beheading on the claims from Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesperson and media reports, it added.

Mr Biden earlier in the day said he had spoken to Mr Netanyahu again, their fourth conversation in recent days, and told him Israel should follow the rules of war in its response against Hamas.

The death toll in Gaza has risen to 1,200, with around 5,600 wounded, Palestinian media reported, citing Gaza’s health ministry.

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Israeli jets have pounded Gaza City for days in retaliation against the weekend attack by Hamas militants who rampaged through towns and villages, killing 1,200 people and taking scores of hostages, including foreign nationals.

Some 340,000 of Gaza’s 2.3 million population have been displaced due to the war, and around 65 per cent of them have sought safety at shelters or schools, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the enclave.

Palestinians remove a dead body from the rubble of a building after an Israeli airstrike Jebaliya refugee camp (AP)

Mr Biden said the attack represented the “deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust”.

“This attack was a campaign of pure cruelty – not just hate, but pure cruelty – against the Jewish people,” he told the Jewish leaders.

The president warned Iran against getting involved in Israel’s conflict, adding that his deployment of military ships and aircraft closer to Israel should be seen as a signal to Iran, which backs Islamist groups Hamas and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

“We made it clear to the Iranians: Be careful,” Mr Biden said.

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