Atrocity Propaganda

Israel and its supporters in the West are helping to provide psychological cover for an ongoing massacre of Palestinian civilians, writes Elizabeth Vos.

Gaza under Israeli bombardment, Oct. 11, 2023. (Courtesy of MedGlobal, ©2023, All Rights Reserved)

By Elizabeth Vos
Special to Consortium News

As merciless bombing in Gaza continues, Israel and its supporters have weaponized dead Israeli children and false narratives about them to justify massacring Palestinian children on an unimaginable scale in Gaza. 

First it was the “40 beheaded babies” story, then it was a series of images of apparently burned infants, which whether fake or real, were published by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an effort to further justify Israel slaughtering thousands of Palestinian children. 

And slaughter we have seen. Israel so far has killed over 2,800 Palestinians, over 1000 of them children. Israel was reported to have bombed a pediatric hospital in Gaza with illegal white phosphorus, and shelled at least one school where dozens of children and their families sought shelter, killing at least 27 children. Entire extended families wiped out in their homes.

Civilians were told to flee to Southern Gaza, a potentially official ethnic cleansing in itself (if they are never allowed to return), before being bombed in their attempt to flee. (Israel says those were Hamas IEDs in the road to prevent people from leaving.) Medics were shelled in their effort to help the injured.  [The WHO decried an Israeli order to evacuate 2,000 patients from 22 hospitals to southern Gaza.]

Dozens of journalists have been killed, or witnessed the death of their own families. Images and videos of dead Palestinian children pulled from the rubble have flooded social media (before Israel cut off the internet). All of this was achieved under a cloak of respectability in Western media by using the images and stories of killed Israeli children. 

After the initial Hamas surprise attack, an oft-repeated rallying cry of Israel apologists was that Hamas had beheaded 40 Israeli babies. Despite the claims being referenced publicly by U.S. President Joe Biden (since walked-back by the administration), there has to date been no confirmation of such a story. According to The Grayzone, the claims were sourced to “David Ben Zion, a Deputy Commander of Unit 71 of the Israeli army who also happens to be an extremist settler leader who incited violent riots against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank earlier this year.” 

Forced to Apologize

CNN journalist Sara Sidner, who first aired the narrative, was forced to publicly recant and apologize for her statements: 

“Yesterday the Israeli Prime Minister’s office said that it had confirmed Hamas beheaded babies & children while we were live on the air. 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.”

This wasn’t only a journalistic error. It was Western media falling in line with the Israeli government’s claim of an atrocity, only to walk back the narrative when Israel refused to confirm the story. Her apology came after the original story went wildly viral on social media and repeated in multiple corporate news outlets, as noted by Mintpress News

As the 40 babies narrative fell apart, Netanyahu and the Israeli government published three shocking images on X, formerly Twitter, to further justify the pulverization of Gaza: one of a dead infant, two of what appears to be the bodies of either one or two horrifically burned toddlers. 

When right-wing commentator Ben Shapiro republished the images, he received accusations that one of the images was generated by artificial intelligence. It has not yet been confirmed that the image was in fact created by AI. However, even if the images are real, the Israeli government has not provided any additional information about the image. As journalist Dan Cohen pointed out, 

“1. None of these photos show evidence of beheading – let alone 40 of them.

2. There is no evidence that these photos are from Kfar Aza.

3. None of the journalists who visited Kfar Aza in the aftermath personally saw any beheaded or burned babies.

4. No families have come forward, none of the allegedly beheaded children have been named, and no photos of them from when they were alive have been presented. 5. Netanyahu is a notorious liar and is currently murdering hundreds of children in Gaza.”

Even if we assume that these images do document Israeli infants killed by Hamas in their recent attack, the moral math of excusing genocide doesn’t add up. 

Israeli and Palestinian deaths preceding the war. Most were civilians. (ARandomName123, based on data from the U.N., Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0)

[Data sources for the above chart archived here.]

One cannot accept the weaponization of such a crime, no matter how horrendous, in order to commit equally horrific crimes against other innocents. That an official Israeli government social media account would publish such images — and that Netanyahu would show them to U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to drum up support for the Israeli cause — represents a direct effort by Israel to weaponize the death and (so far alleged) imagery of dead Israeli babies to excuse a multitude of war crimes

Blinken preparing to travel to Israel and Jordan on Oct. 11. (State Department, Chuck Kennedy, Public domain)

In addition to the Israeli government, media outlets and individual supporters of Israel have engaged in multiple examples of misleading atrocity appropriation over the last week, portraying Palestinian children and damage to property as Israeli. 

The Times of London ran a headline regarding the previously discussed images of dead Israeli children misleadingly alongside images of terrorized Palestinian children, with a tiny caption properly citing the image most likely missed by casual observers. 

Israel’s supporters in the U.S. also — apparently unwittingly — reappropriated images of traumatized and injured Palestinian children to generate public support across the West for Israel, before deleting their posts in embarrassment. 

Actress Jamie Lee Curtis and musician Justin Bieber posted images of Palestinian children and land respectively, as if they were Israeli children and bomb damage, only to later delete their mistaken posts.

Footage of Palestinian children kept in chicken coop cages by Israeli forces circulated online, wrongly described as Israeli children captured by Hamas

Other videos falsely purporting to show Hamas members with abducted children were widely circulated on social media.

A video of a woman being burned at a concert was found to have originated in Guatemala after going viral as a victim of Hamas. All of this, whether intentionally spread as misinformation or by mistake, acts to strengthen psychological cover for an ongoing massacre of Palestinian civilians. 

Yoav Gallant, Israel’s defense minister, publicly stated regarding the cutting off of food, electricity, water and other necessities to all of Gaza that “we are fighting human animals and acting accordingly.” Even if his comments refer specifically to Hamas fighters, such collective punishment is illegal under international law and is one of the many war crimes committed by Israel against Palestinian civilians in the week since Hamas’s attack.  

Gallant, left, with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in Tel Aviv on Oct. 13. (DoD, Chad J. McNeeley)

Daniel Kovalik, a human rights lawyer, peace activist, professor and author, posted on social media regarding the death of his friend: 

“I just learned that my friend in Gaza, Heba Zagout, a great artist, was killed by Israel. Her last words to me, in a text, were: “We are sitting with the children. There is bombing. I feel afraid.” Her words were accompanied by these photos”

For Palestinian children and civilians who escape being killed or maimed by the more than 6,000 bombs Israel dropped on Gaza in under a week, dehydration and starvation still looms large. 

Although Israel says it has begun letting water into [only southern] Gaza after cutting it off for days, there is little hope that water will be delivered given the lack of power to run pumps and the damage done to water pipes by Israeli bombs. 

Medical emergency response effort in Gaza, Oct. 14. (Courtesy of MedGlobal, ©2023, All Rights Reserved)

With Israel also having cut the internet to Gaza, there is now little opportunity for journalists to broadcast the unfolding atrocity to the rest of the world. Caitlin Johnstone and others argue that this is a direct effort to hide atrocities that previously had been documented by journalists and Gaza residents on their phones. 

In the war of propaganda, Israel and its supporters have highlighted the deaths of Jewish children, spread false stories about alleged beheadings of Jewish babies, and dishonestly portrayed Palestinian trauma as Israeli trauma.  

There is one conclusion to be drawn from the ongoing atrocity appropriation and the carnage it excuses: even if the crimes by Hamas as described by Israel were all true, it doesn’t justify ethnic cleansing, collective punishment, the targeting of civilians and the murder of children by bomb, by starvation, and lack of medical care. Nothing could ever justify this. 

Elizabeth Vos is a freelance reporter, co-host of CN Live! and regular contributor to Consortium News.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

Donate to CN’s
Fund Drive




15 comments for “Atrocity Propaganda

  1. October 18, 2023 at 09:12

    Based on the lies discussed in this report, one of my oldest and dearest friends decided she would no longer speak to me nor would she even read any information that contradicted the Israeli narrative. Israeli mission accomplished, at least as to her.

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      October 18, 2023 at 14:23

      That is really sad. But I have experienced much the same from some of my usually non-political friends who do not know the history, only what they see on mainstream TV news.

  2. rosemerry
    October 18, 2023 at 00:58

    This is exactly the same behaviour as the Western media are publishing and have been for 19 months in Ukraine, ALWAYS from Ukrainian sources, NEVER investigated before publishing, and NEVER with apology or even acknowledgement when they are later shown to be false. We cannot be surprised when Israel, as always, is considered an “ally” who can do no wrong despite abundant evidence.

  3. Peter Garcia-Webb
    October 17, 2023 at 21:59


    It’s a con. Worse, it’s a con deliberately supported by government leaders and the Western press. The whole idea is to bury the fact that Israel is about to cause the death of thousands on Palestinians living, and soon to be dying in Gaza.

    As with any con timing is of the essence. The hospital had to be bombed before Biden got to Israel. Why? Read on

    Biden needs to score a win to boost his otherwise hopeless electoral chances. Netanyahu needs to wriggle out of being unable to prevent the extremists in what passes for his government calling up all of those reservists. Right now Bibi has a problem: there are, or so we are told, 300,000 hungry young men who need food and water and somewhere to dispose of both stuck in a semi desert along sections of the Gaza border. Within 24 hours of calling them up Bibi realised that sending them into Gaza and shooting a couple of hundred thousand civilians would not work. He still needs the dead bodies to feed to his government. Enter plan B.

    No food, no water, no electricity. Thousands of bombs aimed at random we are told. Except the water purification facilities and the sewerage disposal facilities and electricity generating plants have been destroyed. Hamas targets we are told every day, many times a day in the Hamas Israel war.

    It’s not a Hamas Israel war it’s an Israel versus unarmed Palestinian civilians war.

    The good thing about this slower approach is that it takes time for all of the stored water and generating capacity to be used up. We are about there now. Then we need to add in another 24 to 36 hours for dehydration to really affect the elderly and the young.

    Right now people are being given 300 mL of water a day. I loose around 300 mL of water every night simply by breathing. If it’s hot and I have no air conditioning I would loose a lot more than that each night. People in Gaza right now need a minimum of 1500 mL of water every day so long as they are not out in the sun and keep cool, and that is no longer available.

    Despite the fact that the internet has been taken down, the deaths will start and some information is going to come out.

    So where does Biden come into this?

    Before I tell you that you need one other piece of information. Because it’s going to interfere with the success of Biden’s plan somewhat. Israel tried turning on the water to a small area of southern Gaza yesterday, or the day before. I’m not sure. However it was a failure. The infrastructure has all been destroyed. Opening a tap on a pipe on the Israel side of the border no longer allows drinkable water to appear in any taps in Gaza.

    Biden did plan to visit Jordan and that crook Abbas as well as Bibi and then claim that his diplomacy, plus the immense generosity of Israel has solved the immediate crisis. Israel will not invade. Well the hospital bombing has changed that a bit, Jordan has said that Biden can piss off. There is no point in his coming if he is not going to talk about peace. Even Abbas has decided that talks will not proceed. But Biden is still going to talk with Bibi.

    The con allows the following outcome. Biden will say he has persuaded Bibi not to invade. Well the troops have probable already started leaving the border even if 300,000 actually got there in the first place.

    Biden will say that plans to restore water are in place even though he knows that that will actually mean supplying enough bottled water for 2.3 million people for however long it will take to get some of the critical infrastructure working.

    Meanwhile people will start dying. They are already drilling new bores. Unfortunately the water is brackish, contaminated with sea water. The Cholera vibrios are already celebrating and can’t wait to get down to some serious reproduction. You need a hospital to treat cholera plus a lot of drip sets and IV fluids. That’s another reason why the hospital has been bombed. Oh by the way the story that is was a Gaza rocket that got lost and hit the hospital is unadulterated bullshit. The explosion was far too large to be explained by the type of rocket that Palestinians have at their disposal.

    Journalists in Israel can no longer write the truth even if they wanted to as anyone undermining the offical Israel story will now go to jail, go directly to jail, will not pass Go, will not collect $200.

    Western journalists will blame the loss life on Hamas, saying that they, Hamas that is, had prevented maintenance of water purifying facilities and had undermined the sewerage facilities as will. I did my best, Biden will say, Bibi has exercised restraint.

    Instead of using noisy tank shells to kill a hundred thousand or so he will use the quiet death of dehydration and infection.

    Charles Fox:

    Strumming my pain with his fingers,
    Singing my life with his words.
    Killing me softly with his song,
    Killing me softly with his song.
    Telling my whole life with his words,
    Killing me softly with his song.

    • Carolyn L Zaremba
      October 18, 2023 at 14:29

      Oh, you had to end with that boring song. Yuck. Listen, I understand what you are saying. Of course the mainstream media will repeat the lies it is directed to repeat. Of course this is engineered to boost Biden’s election campaign and to keep Netanyahu out of prison on the many corruption charges against him in Israel. Everyone forgets the mass demonstrations in Israel against Netanyahu’s attempt to change the court system in Israel to protect himself from being sent to the slammer. And the Biden crime family needs to pretend to be leading a righteous crusade just as charges are being formed against them. And the Empire, in its death throes, needs to lash out with as much random violence as possible, but it will not stop its decline and fall.

  4. gcw919
    October 17, 2023 at 19:58

    How long will it take humanity to realize that we are on the path to total destruction? Already a lunatic Congressman from Texas is advocating war with Iran. Forget catastrophic Climate Change, forget the very real threat of nuclear war, let’s revert to some deep-seated aggression to sort out our differences. Americans bear a great responsibility in all this, for consistently putting in office these monsters with their perpetual-war mentality, and our limitless provision of weapons around the world. Its times like this that make me grateful to be old.

  5. Robert James Parsons
    October 17, 2023 at 17:58

    Media use of photos of ordinary children, without the express consent of their parents or guardians, is absolutely unethical. If they are movie stars or public figures such as the offspring of a head of state or government, that is something else because their parents’ situation lends them a sort of celebrity. But even then, their images must be used judiciously to protect their right to privacy. The use of images of wounded or dead children carries the offense to a supreme level — downright abomination.

  6. Frank Lambert
    October 17, 2023 at 17:48

    For 75 years, the Israeli regimes have gotten away with one atrocity after another in their desire to rid Palestine of the Palestinians and other Arabs, and why is the world scared to condemn the Zionist powers for inflicting crimes against humanity?

    Even the worthless United Nations said bulldozing down Palestinian homes to build “Jewish Only” settlements is a violation of human rights, but falls short of sanctions and humanitarian bombing of Tel Aviv to stop the new “Final Solution” towards exterminating the Palestinian people.

  7. Robert Hoyle (Observer23)
    October 17, 2023 at 16:46

    Oh ! But these are GOD’s Chosen peolple. They can do anything!

  8. Vicky
    October 17, 2023 at 15:31

    Remember the Maine!

    • LarcoMarco
      October 17, 2023 at 19:52

      Remember the USS Liberty, which should’ve exhausted any remaining Holocaust Capital (and them some).

  9. Vicky
    October 17, 2023 at 15:26

    Fool me once, shame on you.
    Fool me twice, shame on me.

    For me, the ‘once’ was either the ‘mass graves in Kosovo’, or it was the ‘ babies in incubators in Kuwait’. Since my old memory says the ‘babies in incubators’ were second, that means there is some shame on me. But, none since.

    This is how NATO fights a war. And for a long, long time now.

    • J Anthony
      October 18, 2023 at 06:58

      And remember Assad gassed all those “beautiful babies”, during the early Trump presidency? I swear it’s a playbook. Always use “dead” and “babies” with various adjectives, that’ll get the people going….

  10. Drew Hunkins
    October 17, 2023 at 14:24

    Israel just struck the Baptist hospital in Gaza killing what some are saying 800 civilians.

    Putin and Xi are the only two people on the planet who can put a stop to this Israeli sadism, ethnic-cleansing and brutality.

  11. susan
    October 17, 2023 at 13:45

    This all makes me so sick! Why aren’t we doing something to save the Palestinians from genocide? AND, this IS GENOCIDE and pure EVIL!!

Comments are closed.