Pack of lies

Published February 26, 2024
The writer is a journalist.
The writer is a journalist.

WHEN Hamas and its allies attacked Israel on Oct 7, the assault made headlines. Its aftermath — Israel’s genocidal campaign against the entire Palestinian people — continues till today.

However, it quickly dawned on the beleaguered right-wing government of Benjamin Netanyahu that the attack was a godsend because (a) a government at war could ignore its political problems, and (b) it provided an opportunity to implement the Final Solution to the Palestinian issue.

But first, a degree of consent had to be manufactured — you can’t eradicate an entire people out of the blue — and the Palestinians had to be depicted as mindless barbarians shedding Jewish blood. So, headlines about 40 beheaded babies — a lie repeated by the US president — dominated international media along with tales of sexual assaults by Hamas fighters.

But, as with almost all Zionist claims, it soon became clear that there was little to no proof backing these accusations. Indeed, had Western media bothered to carry out some due diligence, it would have become apparent that the claims were not supported by evidence. Take the New York Times, which ran a piece claiming to have verified video evidence regarding the alleged rape of an Israeli woman named Gal Abdush. However, Gal’s own parents and sister came out to deny the claim, after which it emerged that NYT’s ‘video evidence’ only verified the woman’s identity, and not the alleged rape.

The article also quoted ZAKA, the same Israeli group that spread the false story about beheaded babies. Interestingly, ZAKA’s own co-founder Meshi Zahav was accused of “horrendous acts of sexual abuse of men, women and children”, following which he took his own life. The NYT also launched a series of podcasts based on the same article, which was pulled after it became clear that the information it relied on was inaccurate.

However, the claims are repeated to this day, most recently by Hillary Clinton who continues to justify Israel’s murderous actions as “self-defence”. Social media was another vector for misinformation, with prominent Israelis posting a video in which they claim a Hamas fighter is heard singling out female captives for rape. Once translated, it became clear that the fighter is saying “No, no, she is a female captive, leave her … go back to your place.”

Similar accusations were made by pro-Israeli Moroccan journalist Mahdi Baladi about freed Israeli hostage Maya Regev. Baladi falsely claimed that Regev’s medical reports stated she was raped by multiple men, a claim that was not verified by the hospital where she was treated or by her family.

More recently, activist Sandra Ifrah claimed on a French TV channel CNEWS that a 13-year-old hostage was raped and needed an abortion while another hostage had 67 different sperm samples in her. Later, she retracted these false claims in a tweet by saying that she was “under the influence of emotion”. She didn’t bother to specify what she was apologising for and the TV channel has continued to repeat this lie.

There is no proof backing Israel’s accusations.

But now, evidence has finally emerged of systematic sexual harassment and rape in Palestine, except this evidence will not be discussed on Western media because the perpetrators are Israeli and the victims Palestinian.

UN experts have said that there have been numerous cases where “Palestinian women and girls in detention have also been subjected to multiple forms of sexual assault, such as being stripped naked and searched by male Israeli army officers. At least two female Palestinian detainees were reportedly raped while others were reportedly threatened with rape and sexual violence”. Photographs of women in “degrading circumstances” have also been posted online by Israeli soldiers.

Lama Khater, a Palestinian mother of five, who was released by Israel in November, says that in her first interrogation she was threatened with rape and the murder of her family. She and other female prisoners were sexually harassed and not even provided access to sanitary pads.

Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi, was also subjected to sexualised remarks during her detention but perhaps her high profile status saved her from greater indignities. The Israelis certainly didn’t hold back because of her age because that has never been a barrier; in 2021 a Palestinian NGO reported the rape of a 15-year-old boy by Israeli security forces to the US State Department. Israel reacted by declaring the NGO a terrorist organisation and sealing its offices.

The latest UN report confirms what Palestinians have been alleging for years, that Israel uses sexual abuse and humiliation as a tool to subjugate Palestinians; this dates to the Nakba, and former Israeli soldiers are on record, talking about how they raped Palestinian women and girls.

Truly, when it comes to Israel, every accusation is a confession.

The writer is a journalist.

X: @zarrarkhuhro

Published in Dawn, February 26th, 2024

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