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Fact Checking Claims About Israeli Soldiers and the ‘Seed of Amalek’
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Fact Checking Claims About Israeli Soldiers and the ‘Seed of Amalek’

Two IDF sources seemingly confirmed the accuracy of the viral incident.

Israeli soldiers in Nahal Oz, Israel, on December 13, 2023. (Photo by Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu via Getty Images)

A video posted by Middle East Eye—a U.K.-based news website covering North Africa and the Middle East—purports to show Israeli soldiers calling for the occupation of Gaza while chanting and singing slogans like “wipe off the seed of Amalek.” The Dispatch Fact Check contacted an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reservist who confirmed the translation offered in the tweet, saying that it was “unfortunately” accurate.

The video was first posted on X—with a Hebrew transcription of the soldiers’ chant—by Yinon Magal, who also served in the Knesset as a member of the right-wing Jewish Home party in 2015. 

Questioned about the footage, an IDF spokesperson seemed to confirm the authenticity of the video while condemning the contents. “The conduct of the force that emerges from the footage does not comply with the army’s values,” the spokesperson told The Dispatch Fact Check.

The chant’s reference to Amalek—a biblical tribal nation inhabiting the Negev and the archetypical enemy of the Jewish people—originates from the end of Chapter 25 of Deuteronomy in the Hebrew Bible: “In the land which the Lord, your God, gives to you as an inheritance to possess, that you shall obliterate the remembrance of Amalek from beneath the heavens.” A similar command is given in 1 Samuel 15, where the prophet Samuel tells Saul—the first king of Israel—that God has ordered them to “Go and proscribe the sinful Amalekites; make war on them until you have exterminated them.” 

Serious debate exists between Jewish scholars about both whether Amalek still exists and whether the Jewish people are still called by God to destroy it, but rhetorical association between it and Hamas is prevalent in parts of Israeli society. “You must remember what Amalek has done to you, says our holy bible,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an October 28 press conference. “And we do remember, and we are fighting.”

This is not the first time IDF songs and chants have generated controversy in the months since Hamas’ October 7 terrorist attack. Procedures for musical performances before soldiers, a tradition in the Israeli military, were updated in November after a number of artists made statements that conflicted with the values of the army despite being instructed by IDF officials to use respectful language and avoid political statements. Israeli musician Kobi Peretz sang “may your village burn” in one incident, and Hanan Ben Ari called for a return to Gush Katif—the Israeli settlements in southern Gaza evacuated during the 2005 disengagement with Gaza—in another.

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Alex Demas is a fact checker at The Dispatch and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2023, he worked in England as a financial journalist and earned his MA in Political Economy at King's College London. When not heroically combating misinformation online, Alex can be found mixing cocktails, watching his beloved soccer team Aston Villa lose a match, or attempting to pet stray cats.