There is no Proof Palestinian Fighters ‘Beheaded’ Babies. The Only Source is a Radical Settler – Dave Reed 10/11/23


U.S. and international media outlets are repeating unsubstantiated claims that Palestinian fighters “beheaded” babies. These unverified assertions aren’t just sloppy journalism — they are being used to justify a massacre.

One story has been dominating the U.S. and international media cycle for the past 24 hours. It has been repeated by pro-Israel activists, Israeli government officials, reporters, and anchors throughout the U.S. media and even alluded to by the President. The thing is — this story has not been confirmed in any way. It appears to come from a single source with a history of espousing calls for genocidal violence against Palestinians.

You have probably heard the story that Hamas fighters beheaded 40 Israeli children in the Kfar Aza community near Gaza. This story can be traced back to an article by Bel Trew, a reporter for The Independent. Trew entered Kfar Aza on October 10, soon after the Israeli army, and reported on Twitter that gunfire erupted just as they arrived. She is told by a member of the Israeli military that children were beheaded, but the article notes, “The Independent did not see evidence of this.”

The military source of this claim is Major David Ben Zion. According to his Twitter bio, he is the Deputy Head of the settler leadership organization, the Samaria Regional Council, and a member of the Board of Directors of the National Fund for Israel, a quasi-governmental agency used to acquire land in Palestine that is then made available exclusively for use by the Israeli state.

In this video clip, Ben Zion speaks directly to the camera. He says the soldiers found children with their heads cut off. He is incorrectly named on-screen in the video but is correctly named in the description below the video on YouTube.

In addition to his role in settler leadership, Ben Zion has a history of calls to genocidal violence.

Earlier this year, Israeli settlers carried out a so-called “reprisal attack” on the Palestinian village of Huwwara after an unknown Palestinian gunman killed two Israeli settlers. As we reported at the time, Israeli settlers launched a ‘pogrom’ on the night of February 26, attacking Palestinian homes and property in Huwwara, Burin, and across the Nablus area, burning houses, cars, vandalizing property, and assaulting Palestinians.

Following the reprisal attack on Huwwara carried out by Israeli settlers, Ben Zion wrote in a now-deleted tweet:

“Here in Hawara, the blood of our children, the residents of Samaria who were murdered here an hour ago, is spilled on the road. The village of Huwwara should be erased today. Enough with the talk of building and strengthening the settlement, the deterrence that was lost needs to be restored immediately, and there is no room for mercy.” (Translation by Google, archived here:

And The Independent wasn’t the only outlet to run the story. Later on October 10, according to the Times of Israel, the IDF took the foreign press on a tour of Kfar Aza to survey the scene and document the carnage left by the attacks. Nicole Zedek, a reporter with i24 News, filed a report repeating the claim that Hamas fighters beheaded children in the community: “Some soldiers say they found babies with their heads cut off, entire families gunned down in their beds.” This article also noted that the bodies of “[a]bout 40 babies and young children have been taken out on gurneys”.

Here, Major David Ben Zion relates a similar story to i24 News.

A similar claim was made in a video posted on CNN’s official Instagram, where reporter Nic Robertson says men, women and children were found with their “hands bound…executed, heads cut.” Robinson does not name his sources in the video report, or clarify if that information was independently verified by CNN.

It was not long before social media sites filled up with claims that Hamas fighters had beheaded 40 babies in Kfar Aza.

On October 11, the Israeli journalist Oren Ziv, who was also on the tour of Kfar Aza, wrote on Twitter, “During the tour we didn’t see any evidence of this, and the army spokesperson or commanders also didn’t mention any such incidents.”

He continued: “Soldiers I spoke with in Kfar Aza yesterday didn’t mention ‘beheaded babies.’ The army’s spokesperson stated: ‘We can not confirm at this point… we are aware of the heinous acts Hamas is capable of.’”

We don’t know exactly who the reporters on that tour spoke to, but as of yet, no independent news publication appears to have verified the claim made by Major David Ben Zion about finding beheaded children in Kfar Aza, and the Israeli military has even denied having evidence of the event.

And other similarly horrific stories that have been reported are also starting to fall apart. The Los Angeles Times has retracted similarly unconfirmed reports of rape, and reporters are beginning to “clarify” or retract their statements about this claim of beheadings. We will continue to follow this story.

Of course, if this horrific event did happen, the world needs to know about it because it is an indefensible war crime and will color and inform how we understand the unfolding events.

But If it did not happen, it is also important that the world know that a member of the Israeli military lied to journalists about such a gruesome crime and, in the process, helped create a global story with no bearing in fact beyond the claim of one person whose own history should put his trustworthiness under deep suspicion.

And regardless of when the truth comes out, it is possible the damage has been done. As has been the case in many recent examples, in the rush to war, misreporting or intentional misinformation can help build support for deadly consequences.