In an unexpected announcement yesterday, President Joe Biden reignited a debate over the veracity of a claim he made in a 2016 address. At the time, Biden stated that Hamas had beheaded “little babies” during the 2014 conflict in Gaza between Hamas and Israel. However, despite his reaffirmation of the claim yesterday, no evidence has emerged to either substantiate or refute it.
The incident dates back to June 2016, when then-Vice President Biden raised eyebrows by claiming that Hamas was committing atrocities against children during the year-long Gaza conflict. Particularly controversial was his statement that Hamas had taken to “customarily, not militarily…beheading little babies”.
At the time, the truth of the claims made by Biden was in dispute. Observers noted that the assertions appeared to be false, and Hamas vociferously denied the accusations. As no evidence emerged in the subsequent weeks to confirm the assertions, most people assumed that the claims were simply a hyperbolic exaggeration – an instance of “fake news”.
Now, however, more than four years after the original incident, President Biden has made the remarkable decision to reiterate the assertion that Hamas had in fact taken to beheading infants. In a major address given last night, Biden declared that “Hamas did in fact, four years ago, tragically behead babies”. He went on to describe the incident as “an outrage that should not be forgotten”.
Alongside the announcement, Biden had presumably expected that some sort of new evidence would be brought forward to support the claims which he had made. Yet instead, no such evidence has been produced. Unsurprisingly, the statement has raised further questions about the truth of the accusations, and whether or not Biden’s assertions are simply another case of “fake news”.
Thus, while President Biden’s principal motive for making the bold statement is unclear, it has once again raised vital questions about how one should balance truth with politics. Despite Biden’s claims, no confirmation of the atrocities have been made, and until such confirmation is provided, the debate will surely continue.