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Israel releases images of babies killed by Hamas: 'Depravity in the worst imaginable way'

A member of the Israeli security forces stands close to a car hit by a rocket fired from Gaza, in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, on October 9, 2023. Stunned by the unprecedented assault on its territory, a grieving Israel has counted over 900 dead and launched a withering barrage of strikes on Gaza that have raised the death toll there to 560, according to Palestinian officials.
A member of the Israeli security forces stands close to a car hit by a rocket fired from Gaza, in the southern Israeli city of Sderot, on October 9, 2023. Stunned by the unprecedented assault on its territory, a grieving Israel has counted over 900 dead and launched a withering barrage of strikes on Gaza that have raised the death toll there to 560, according to Palestinian officials. | JACK GUEZ/AFP via Getty Images

Israel's government presented graphic images of dead children and civilians said to have been killed in last weekend's attack by Hamas after reports emerged of claims that dozens of babies were killed and some beheaded by the terrorist group. 

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Tel Aviv on Thursday and was shown the photographs. He spoke about the images while talking with the press at a hotel in Jerusalem that evening. 

"It's simply depravity in the worst imaginable way," Blinken told reporters. "Images are worth a thousand words. These images may be worth a million."

"We did see photographs, videos, that the Israel Government shared with us. Some, I think, has actually already been seen in public media. Others were new to me and, I think, new to our team," he explained.

"It's hard to find the right words. It's beyond what anyone would ever want to imagine, much less actually see and, God forbid, experience. A baby, an infant, riddled with bullets. Soldiers beheaded. Young people burned alive in their cars or in their hideaway rooms."

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office also released the graphic images shown to Blinken on social media.

"Horrifying photos of babies murdered and burned by the Hamas monsters," reads a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

"It almost defies comprehension, and as I've been saying, to me, it, in the most immediate future, hearkens back to ISIS and some of the very things we saw when it was on its rampage that, thankfully, was stopped," Blinken added. 

"So I think for any human being to see this, it's really beyond almost anything that we can comprehend, digest. And I'd just add that when you see this, you try to imagine — maybe not try, you can't help but imagine — yourself, your family, your loved ones, your friends, in that situation, in that predicament. And maybe the best word for it for me is overwhelming."

Israel Defense Minister Yoav Gallant addressed his counterparts at NATO's Brussels headquarters, showing the images from the aftermath of the attack on Israel's southern border communities with Gaza. 

"Children were tied up and shot," Gallant said in his address, according to Reuters. "Yes, I repeat, children, tied up and shot."

The photographs were taken by the armed forces who found "mutilated bodies" in settlements attacked by Hamas last Saturday, The Times reported.

The Hamas attack on Israeli settlements along the border with Gaza began last Saturday, resulting in over 1,200 deaths and thousands of injuries. At least 150 people were also reported to have been taken hostage. The attack drew retaliatory airstrikes from Israel into Gaza, which the Palestinian authorities say has led to the loss of over 1,400 Palestinians and over 6,000 wounded.

Israeli survivors have shared their stories of how they were fortunate to survive attacks on their homes. 

Before the photos were released, there was skepticism surrounding reports of children being massacred in the Israeli Kfar Aza settlement, with an on-the-ground reporter from i24News reporting that Israel's military discovered the bodies of over 40 babies killed.

Dozens of dead civilians were found in the village; some burned beyond recognition.

Another kibbutz Kerem Shalom also reported the killing of children, with the Israel Defense Forces releasing photographs of a child's bed covered in blood at the time, according to The Telegraph.

The Israel Air Force has been conducting bombing raids on Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, since the attack, and tens of thousands of troops are amassing along the border for a possible ground invasion.

Israel's military chief, Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, admitted in a speech to troops Thursday that the Israel Defense Forces failed to protect its citizens and guard the border along the Gaza Strip.

"The IDF is responsible for the security of the country and its citizens, and on Saturday morning in the area surrounding the Gaza Strip, we did not do it," Halevi said, according to Jewish News Syndicate. "We will learn. We will investigate. But now is the time for war."

Deputy Hamas chief, Saleh Al-Arouri, now claims that the plan was to target only military and "occupation" soldiers, according to remarks released by Hamas.

Israel's military on Friday issued an evacuation order to over 1 million Palestinians in northern Gaza, instructing them to move to the southern part of the territory, The Associated Press reported.

"Civilians of Gaza City, evacuate south for your own safety and the safety of your families and distance yourself from Hamas terrorists who are using you as human shields," a statement from Israel Defense Forces reads. 

"In the following days, the IDF will continue to operate significantly in Gaza City and make extensive efforts to avoid harming civilians."

The United Nations cautioned that such a mass exodus would be disastrous, the newswire said, adding, that Hamas dismissed the order as a tactic and urged residents to stay put.

The evacuation directive, which also encompasses Gaza City, has incited widespread panic among civilians and aid workers. 

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said Washington is not placing any conditions on its security assistance to Israel.

Britain is sending two Royal Navy ships and other military assets to the eastern Mediterranean in a show of military support for Israel and to bolster surveillance and security in the region.

"We must be unequivocal in making sure the types of horrific scenes we have seen this week will not be repeated. Alongside our allies, the deployment of our world class military will support efforts to ensure regional stability and prevent further escalation," Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement.  

"Our military and diplomatic teams across the region will also support international partners to re-establish security and ensure humanitarian aid reaches the thousands of innocent victims of this barbaric attack from Hamas terrorists."

The White House has confirmed that 22 Americans have been killed since Hamas attacked Israel. At a press briefing Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that 17 Americans remained unaccounted for. 

"We know that these numbers are likely to increase in the days ahead," she said.

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