Rafah decapitated baby denied justice; West awaits IDF investigation

IDF investigation in Rafah's tent massacre raises questions while the decapitated baby’s killing goes unnoticed, underlining double standards in international reactions.

Graphic visuals of a decapitated baby in Rafah highlight the Gaza genocide, questions Israel's accountability and international response.

AI-generated depiction of a man holding a decapitated baby killed by Israeli bombing in Rafah

The horrific visuals emerging from Rafah show a gruesome scene of a Palestinian man holding a decapitated baby that was killed in Israel’s attack on a make-shift camp in Southern Gaza on May 26th. Although the horrid visual has shaken the world, it has not stirred as strong a reaction as it did earlier when Hamas was accused of committing a similar act on October 7th.

The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) accused Hamas militants of beheading 40 babies in October 2023 at Kfar Aza Kibbutz. The unverified claim was rapidly propagated by the mainstream media, as well as high-profile officials like US President Joe Biden

While the allegation of Hamas beheading children outraged the West, it’s awaiting an ironic move on the airstrike in Rafah resulting in the killing of women and children. 

Reaction of the West: Calling for an Israeli investigation 

The graphic visual of a headless baby in Rafah’s tent massacre has failed to fuel sharp reactions from the international community. Ironically, the West has been seeking the IDF’s investigation of its own “tragic mistake” of the airstrike on the inhabited camp. 

British Secretary of State of Foreign Affairs, David Cameron in his X (formerly Twitter) post stated, “The IDF’s investigation must be swift, comprehensive & transparent.” 

US Spokesperson for the Department of State Mathew Miller, expressing his deep concerns, said the US is “going to wait to see the full results of the investigation”.

“They (IDF) need to conduct the investigation. And we’re going to eagerly await the investigation and press them to make sure that the results of that investigation are presented openly and transparently to us and to the world,” Mr Miller added.

US Secretary of the States Antony Blinken said that he doesn’t know the details but “the IDF is investigating.” 

The UK Ambassador James Kariuki called on Israel “to launch a swift, comprehensive & transparent investigation” at the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). 

Writing on X, the German Foreign Office also called for a “swift IDF investigation” on the Israeli airstrike.

Public and political reaction to allegation of Hamas attacks

Showing a strong contrast, the claim of 40 decapitated babies by Hamas, in October 2023, made it to the front pages of the mainstream media including The Independent, Fox News, New York Post, BBC, The Times, The Scotsman, Financial Times, and others across the Atlantic, even though it was not supported by any kind of evidence. 

Ted Deutch, CEO of the American Jewish Committee pushed the claim on X, “40 Israeli babies, murdered. They are not just statistics; they were new souls, full of potential, brutally stolen from their families by vicious terrorists.”

Parallely, the accusation was endorsed by celebrities and high-profile politicians like Mr Biden, as a result of which, an angry white man stabbed a Palestinian child to death in Illinois.

Mr Biden said, “I never really thought that I would see, have confirmed, pictures of terrorists beheading children” in a meeting in the White House. The White House later backed off the remark saying the remarks were based on “Netanyahu’s spokesman and media reports from Israel.”

A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that babies with their “heads decapitated” were found in southern Israel after Hamas’ attack.

Texas Senator Ted Cruz posted on X, “Hamas is executing entire families, killing children, raping women, beheading babies, and seizing hostages.”

Congresswoman for GA-14, Marjorie Taylor Greene, posted on X, “Cutting off babies heard is unspeakable (sic).”

Even celebrities like Noah Schnapp pushed the unverified claim posted on X, “40 babies were beheaded and burnt in front of their parents”

Nicole Zedek, reporting for Israel’s i24News channel that has close ties with Mr Netanyahu, alleged that about 40 babies were killed by Hamas on October 7th. This is where the claim is believed to have started. 

Since the Israeli government and the IDF could not provide a single piece of evidence to support the claim, it was clear that it was “propaganda”, “disinformation” and a “lie” as experts and other social media users called it. 

CNN journalist Sara Sidner publicly apologised on X for not being cautious in her reporting. She wrote “The Israeli government now says today it CANNOT confirm babies were beheaded.  I needed to be more careful with my words and I am sorry.”

Claims of the IDF on Rafah’s tent airstrike resulting in a decapitated baby

The IDF has denied that their munitions caused the tent massacre and pointed out that Hamas’ ammunition warehouse exploded resulting in the massacre. 

Israel’s War Room on X said “The IDF did not strike within the humanitarian zone.”

Daniel Hagary, the spokesperson of IDF, said after the airstrike caught attention, “We’re assessing footage taken by Gazans which appear to show secondary explosions indicating that there may have been weapons in the area”

The IDF, indicating that the attack happened due to a “Hamas ammunition warehouse” nearby, posted on its X, “We are investigating the cause of the fire and will continue to operate in accordance with international law (sic).”

Israel’s Foreign Ministry posted “important details” about the airstrike in Rafah, on X. It included the claim that “Hamas intentionally exploited the area in close proximity to civilians” and that “the strike took place after precautionary measures were taken, including surveillance.” It also alleges that “the strike did not take place in the designated humanitarian zone.”

Is the IDF’s investigation reliable?

The Human Rights group pointed out that an Amnesty International investigation into four Israeli strikes on Rafah in December and January found no evidence of military targets.

Experts argue that IDF’s earlier internal investigations on its military action lack transparency and independence and have been criticised for not being thorough. 

To uphold the principle of justice, the need for independent investigation sounds ethical. A probe from an unbiased international body such as the UN could be an advocate for investigating the potential war crimes carried out by Israel.

UN Experts stated in a press release, “Even if Israeli leaders claim now that the strikes were a ‘mistake’, they bear international legal responsibility” and insisted on “the urgent need for international action and accountability.”

It is to ponder whether the IDF investigation of allegations of war crimes can be trusted with impartiality and fairness. It is to wonder whether it will give justice to all 45 people killed in the tent massacre and 250 people wounded. It is to also question whether the result of the IDF’s self-probe will hold those responsible accountable for the killing of the decapitated baby in Rafah. 

A journalism student interested in national and international news. She aspires to highlight the concerns of the people through her writing.

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