Times investigates complaint over article questioning evidence of systematic rape by Hamas

The times has announced that it will investigate a complaint about an explosive article questioning Israel’s claim that Hamas officially condoned sexual assault on October 7.

Three Israeli experts interviewed for the article who specialize in violence against women and helped gather evidence on the October 7 sex crimes reacted angrily to the article, saying it “misrepresented” them.

They also claimed that “attempts were made to use our expertise to lend credibility to … alternative views.”

The June 7 article used interviews with the three to support the claim that Hamas did not order terrorists to carry out sexual assaults.

In their social media posts on Monday, however, the Israelis seemed to contradict this central claim: “The use of sexual violence as a weapon of war was an integral part of the October 7 attacks.”

While the article acknowledges that there is evidence of sexual assaults on October 7, there is insufficient evidence to show that they were systematic or condoned by Hamas officials.

The times said the company was aware of “a complaint” about the article and was “investigating.”

Professor Ruth Halperin-Kaddari served for 12 years on a UN committee monitoring the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and now heads the Dinah Project 7/10, which collects evidence to support prosecutions for the sexual violence that occurred on October 7. She said: “Much of what we said was left out and only selected extracts were used.”

The article, written by Catherine Philp and Gabriella Weiniger, includes interviews with Halperin-Kaddari as well as Orit Sulitzeanu, executive director of the Association of Rape Crises Centres in Israel (ARCCI), and Dr. Sarai Aharoni, director of the Gender Studies Program at Ben-Gurion University.

In a joint statement following the article’s publication, the women wrote: “Since October 7, we have been actively working to amplify the voices of victims of sexual violence, especially in forums where such voices are often ignored. In this context, we have agreed to be interviewed about the sexual assaults of October 7.”
They said they were “shocked and disappointed” by the article, adding: “It is our duty to ensure that the full extent of what happened is acknowledged. The use of sexual violence as a weapon of war was a key part of the October 7 attack. Denying the evidence of this violence has become a disturbing aspect of the global pro-Palestinian discourse and is having a negative impact on the well-being of the sexual violence survivors of the massacre, as well as all survivors everywhere.”

At the beginning of the article, reference is made to the “only woman” who testifies about her own sexual abuse: the released hostage Amit Soussana.

It says she spoke to foreign media about how she was forced at gunpoint to undress and perform sexual acts with her male captor during her six-week captivity in the Gaza Strip.

However, the article seems to suggest that Israel was trying to publicize the rape cases in order to more easily defend its military response in the Gaza Strip.

To support this statement, the authors used a quote from Dr. Aharoni.

Aharoni, a Ben-Gurion University scholar who is helping to compile a historical archive of the events, is quoted in the article as saying of the decision to make the sexual violence public: “And that is a terrible decision that we have to make.”

The article goes on to suggest that Aharoni believes that “historical memories” of the abuse of Jewish women are the reason so many of the initial reports on October 7 focused on these women.

In it, Aharoni is quoted as saying: “Examples of abuse of Jewish women throughout the centuries have become a cultural heritage of the Jewish people, especially those without a secular education. This fact should also play a role in reporting on the events of October 7.”

The authors further argue that “the notion of the Arab man as an explicit sexual threat to Jewish women emerged parallel to the rightward evolution of Israeli politics” and cite a quote from Aharoni to support this view.

The article also looked at early reports of sexual violence and some cases of false reports based on social media reports.

Based on quotes from Sulitzeanu, the executive director of ARCCI, it is argued that the religious volunteers’ lack of familiarity with the bodies of the dead women is one of the reasons for the falsely reported cases of abuse.

The article suggested that first responders like Zaka tended to “focus on injuries they believed indicated sexual violence, such as shattered pelvises and gunshot wounds to the genitals, while ignoring other injuries that clouded the picture.”

However, the article offered no other explanation as to why women’s genitals should show gunshot wounds.

Nor were there any mention of the widely known reports of violence and abuse against women documented by Israel Defense Forces reservist Shari Mendes, who claimed to have personally cared for the women’s mutilated bodies on October 8.

In an interview with Sky’s Yalda Hakim four months ago, Mendes described what she and her team believe “looks like systematic female genital mutilation.”

In the interview, Mendes, who is not a forensic scientist but has worked in preserving bodies for burial, described seeing women who had been shot “so many times in the head” that it seemed to her like evidence of “a deliberate erasure of the women’s faces.”

She said she had seen and interacted with women with very “bloody underwear” and “women with gunshot wounds to the crotch and genitals.”

She said her team saw “women with gunshot wounds to the breasts.” She also described how some bodies had been “laced” with explosives.

In March, the UN envoy on sexual violence in conflict found evidence that rape and sexual violence occurred in the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, including against women who were killed.

In a report by UN representative Pramila Patten, witnesses described two incidents involving the rape of women’s corpses.

The times The article mentioned this, but also noted: “The Israeli authorities were unable to produce much of the evidence that the political leadership had claimed existed.”

The article stated: “In all the Hamas video footage Patten’s team viewed and in all the photographs they saw, there were no depictions of rape.”

The Times said it had “hired a leading Israeli darknet researcher to search for evidence of these images, including footage deleted from public sources. None could be found.”

However, according to Patten’s report, there is “clear and convincing” information showing that Hamas terrorists have committed sexual violence in connection with the conflict, including rape and gang rape.

Patten also said her team had found “clear and compelling information” that some women and children were subjected to conflict-related sexual violence while held hostage.

She said that acts of violence against women and children included rape and “sexual torture” and that there were “reasonable grounds to believe that such acts of violence may continue to occur.”

Patten said there were “reasonable grounds” to believe that “multiple incidents of sexual violence occurred on the grounds of the Nova music festival, in which the victims were raped and/or gang raped and subsequently killed or killed during the rape.”

She said: “There are other reports from people who witnessed at least two cases of rape of women’s corpses.

“Other credible sources at the Nova Music Festival site reported seeing several murdered people, mostly women, whose bodies were found naked from the waist down, some completely naked, some with gunshot wounds to the head, some tied to trees or poles with their hands tied.”

The report contained detailed “credible information” based on witness statements describing the incident of the rape of two women by armed terrorists on Road 232.

Street 232 was the escape route from the Nova Festival, along which many people fled.

Patten said: “Several bodies with genital injuries and injuries to other parts of the body were found along this road.

“Recognizable patterns of genital mutilation could not be verified at this time, but require future investigations.”

She said: “The response team also found a pattern of bound naked or partially naked bodies from the waist down along Route 232, in some cases tied to structures such as trees and poles.”