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Rape Deniers: Evidence of Hamas Sexual Assault Ignored Despite Proof (Part One)

The personal belongings of festival-goers are seen at the site of an attack on the Nova Festival by Hamas terrorists from Gaza, near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, Oct. 12, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Where there are anti-Jewish atrocities, there are deniers. And on Oct 7, there were atrocities, including countless acts of murder and mutilation, as well as brutal acts of sexual violence by the Palestinian attackers.

An Israeli who was abducted by Hamas shared that her guard violently beat her and sexually assaulted her at gunpoint. A United Nations mission “verified an incident of the rape of a woman outside of a bomb shelter” at a kibbutz, citing “digital material” and witness testimonies. The BBC reported on multiple photographs that “show the bodies of women naked from the waist down, or with their underwear ripped to one side, legs splayed, with signs of trauma to their genitals and legs.” The New York Times saw a photograph of a woman’s corpse with “dozens of nails driven into her thighs and groin.” A video viewed by the same paper appears to show two women “shot directly in their vaginas.” NPR viewed photos of “several suspected victims of sexual violence.”

Ten medics and soldiers reported finding the bodies of 24 undressed women in six kibbutz homes, according to The New York Times, some mutilated or tied up. Four EMTs told the newspaper paper that they found “bodies of dead women with their legs spread and underwear missing — some with their hands tied by rope and zipties.”

The UN mission viewed evidence showing that “at least ten distinct corpses displayed indications of bound wrists and/or tied legs.” Yinon Rivlin, a survivor of the music festival, said he found the body of a young woman, “no pants or underwear, legs spread apart,” with a violent wound on her genitalia. Jamal Waraki, a volunteer medic, described seeing a woman with her hands tied behind her back, half naked and bent over. Rami Shmuel, a rescue worker, reported finding the bodies of women stripped of their clothes, legs splayed.

Noam Mark, a security team member at Kibbutz Re’im, testified to discovering in a kibbutz residence the bodies of two or three women, naked and with clear signs of sexual violence — a neighbor reported hearing screaming and crying from that same residence. One survivor of the music festival, Ron Feger, told the Associated Press he overheard a woman screaming that she was being raped, followed by a gunshot, then silence. Another, Gad Liberson, told Israeli journalists that he overheard the screams and cries of women he believed were being raped, which also ended with gunshots.

Volunteer morgue worker Shari Mendes reported processing multiple bodies with signs of sexual violence and bleeding from the pelvic areas. Another morgue worker, Maayan, saw at least 10 bodies with signs of brutal sexual violence. Avigail, another soldier serving at a makeshift morgue, described “more than enough” bodies that appeared to have been raped.

Former hostage Chen Goldstein-Almog said she spoke to three victims of sexual assault while in Hamas captivity. Her daughter and fellow captive Agam corroborated that account. Aviva Siegel, another former hostage, shared that a girl that was held with her was sexually assaulted.

Volunteer therapist Bar Yuval-Shani said she heard several witness accounts of rape from festival survivors. Two therapists told The New York Times of working with a woman who was gang raped. A doctor who treated some of the released hostages told the AP that at least 10 of the freed hostages were sexually assaulted or abused. USA Today reported that two doctors who treated released hostages said they spoke of “violent sexual assaults in captivity.”

A survivor of the music festival massacre named Sapir saw the brutal rape and mutilation of several woman, she testified to the police. Raz Cohen, another survivor, also described witnessing a sadistic rape and murder.

The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel added that “information about sexual assaults on surviving young women, originally not disclosed, has reached the rape crisis centers.” Physicians for Human Rights Israel expressed a belief that there was widespread sexual and gender-based crimes.

The UN mission that verified rape at a kibbutz also concluded that “there are reasonable grounds to believe that conflict-related sexual violence occurred during the 7 October attacks in multiple locations across Gaza periphery, including rape and gang rape”; noted a “pattern of undressing, restraining and shooting of victims” that suggests sexual violence; and referred to “clear and convincing” information that hostages have been subject to “various forms of conflict-related violence including rape and sexualized torture and sexualized cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” violence they believe may be ongoing.

These are but some of the atrocities. Cue the deniers.

In this three part series, CAMERA will expose some of these deniers, and offer irrefutable proof of the sexual abuse of Israeli women by the Palestinian attackers both during and after the October 7 atrocities.

Among those seeking to discredit the idea of widespread sexual violence are the usual suspects — the Hamas apologists and conspiracists that inhabit the gutters of the Internet. And among their arguments are the usual tactics — falsehoods, omissions, distortions, and table pounding. It’s just another day in the cellar.

But such noise can carry up the walls, and in this case, make their way to the mainstream. What began as a campaign of mud-slinging by fringe activists like Max Blumenthal, Ali Abunimah, and Mondoweiss was amplified by The Intercept, an anti-establishment publication that exists a half-step closer to the mainstream, and from there it spread — outward to the mobs, but also upward to institutions like NPR, CNN, and The New York Times, which deferentially reported their skepticism.

Zooming Out

Before looking at specific examples of disinformation by the “critics,” as the Times and NPR calls them, we should address a few broader points.

Despite evidence of rape, those defending Hamas from charges of sexual violence point to a lack of forensic evidence — the kind that might be revealed at the denouement of a television crime show. Indeed, Israel’s frontier with Gaza on and after Oct. 7 was less untouched crime scene and more a battlefield and disaster zone.

But this is neither exonerating nor unusual. “There is very much what’s known as the CSI effect, where there is a perception that without forensic evidence or DNA, then you don’t have a case,” an expert on sexual violence in conflict zones told NPR. “And that’s just patently not true.”

In this case, the full CSI treatment was impracticable. “As is common in war, collection of physical evidence was hindered by ongoing combat and a large, chaotic crime scene,” NPR reported.

With limited resources and such a large-scale attack, compromises were necessary, journalist Carrie Keller-Lynn explained. “Instead of going through CSI, which would make it possible to produce evidence of crimes, the bodies are being processed through the disaster victim identification (DVI) track, as is common for mass casualty events,” she reported. Or as the UN mission put it, there was a “prioritization of rescue operations and the recovery, identification, and burial of the deceased in accordance with religious practices, over the collection of forensic evidence.” (The mission noted additional factors, too, that hindered the collection of forensic examination. See paragraph 46 of its report.)

The deniers had also pointed to lack of testimony by victims — a puzzling defense in the context of this story, where survivors describe women raped then murdered; where recovery workers noted naked and bound corpses; and where released hostages say those still in captivity had said they were sexually assaulted. Which category of those victims, exactly, would the deniers expect to have heard from? (When a hostage did eventually speak out about being sexually assaulted, the self-appointed investigators were not particularly interested, or worse, dismissed her account.)

None of this means that every piece of testimony is beyond reproach. Just as the record of 9/11 was contaminated by multiple false accounts and fake survivors, likewise after 10/7 false accounts were reported by pretenders, and some unfounded atrocity charges were shared, believed, and repeated. The “critics” did not miss the opportunity to capitalize on these inaccurate accounts in order to push the idea, through innuendo or explicit denial, that every witness of rape and every first responder account of sexually abused bodies are fake.

The Critics

NPR’s story about “critics” of a New York Times piece on sexual violence repeatedly cites The Intercept.

And across The Intercept’s incessant efforts to discredit those shining a light on Palestinian sexual violence, its reporters cite Mondoweiss, Ali Abunimah of Electronic Intifada, and Max Blumenthal of Grayzone.

It is an echo chamber of Hamas apologia — invariably, one story links to identical accusations by the others, which link back to similar pieces by the rest. The common theme, other than denial, is the extremism of its participants.

Consider, most relevantly, their response to the Oct. 7 massacre:

A writer for the Intercept, at least, grants that the attack was “horrifying” — though this was in a post whose argument was that we shouldn’t view it as horrifying.

Others are less subtle. Denier Ali Abunimah, for example, was self-evidently delighted by the attack and slaughter of civilians. He not only defended the attack, calling it “just”; not only insisted we shouldn’t feel bad about it; but also viciously attacked those — including critics of Israel — who would dare share any sympathy for the victims of the mass slaughter of Jews.

Mondoweiss summarized the deadliest day in Jewish history since the Holocaust with an announcement that “Gazans have broken out of their open air prison imposed by Israel and launched an elaborate surprise attack on their occupier,” while pooh-poohing the idea that Hamas had started a war. As the extent of the atrocities became apparent, Mondoweiss’s defenses of the assault grew more emphatic. On Oct. 9, it published a piece insisting we “must shout our support for the resistance from our rooftops.”

Max Blumenthal minimized Hamas’ slaughter as ”guerrilla bands bursting out of a besieged ghetto with homemade weapons.” In response to an X/Twitter post noting that at its attack on a music festival Hamas “began shooting those in attendance,” Blumenthal mocked the victims and justified their slaughter.

Part Two of this article will appear tomorrow.

Gilead Ini is a Senior Research Analyst at CAMERA, the foremost media watchdog organization focused on coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict, where a version of this article first appeared.

The post Rape Deniers: Evidence of Hamas Sexual Assault Ignored Despite Proof (Part One) first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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‘Israel Is Not Jewish People,’ New York Times ‘Daily’ Guest Really Wants You to Know

Anti-Israel protesters outside Columbia University in Manhattan, New York City, April 22, 2024. Photo: USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters Connect

When producers from the New York Times podcast “The Daily” posted on social media looking for “Jewish students who represent a range of feelings and experiences, from being enthusiastically pro Palestinian to enthusiastically pro Israel, and everything in between,” I replied, “This is a trap! They’ll use the ‘pro-Palestinian’ (the polite term they use for the ones who want to wipe Israel off the map) ones to make it sound like the Jewish community is divided and give listeners the illusion that the anti-Israel protests aren’t antisemitic.”

Sure enough, the Times podcast episode that finally aired, headlined, “The Campus Protesters Explain Themselves,” included three students.

Mustafa Yowell, of Irving, Texas, said his mother was from “Nablus, Palestine” and described himself as a Palestinian Arab. He’s a student at the University of Texas, Austin who complained to the Times that “two IDF [Israel Defense Forces] soldiers had infiltrated the campus.” By “IDF soldiers” he meant Israeli students at the university who had, like many Israelis, served in the army before college.

The second student interviewed, Elisha Baker, a student at Columbia University, described himself as a proud Zionist and a graduate of Jewish day school.

And the third student, Jasmine Jolly, a student at Cal Poly Humboldt, described herself as the daughter of a Catholic father and “of Ashkenazi descent on my mom’s side.” Jolly showed up at protests with a sign that said “in honor of my Jewish ancestors, I stand with Palestine.” Jolly also chanted “there is only one solution, intifada revolution.”

“There’s nothing that has come across to me as antisemitic if you are able to pause and remember that Israel is not Jewish people and Zionism is not Jewish people,” Jolly explained to the Times audience.

Jolly read an email from her Jewish grandfather claiming, “Israel is an increasingly apartheid state.”

This is just such a misleading view of reality on campus and in American Jewish life. Even polls like Pew that use an expansive definition of who is Jewish find overwhelming Jewish support for Israel and negligible support for Hamas, including among younger Jews 18 to 34.

In reality, a lot of the anti-Israel protesters aren’t even Palestinians; they are European or Asian students or white or black Americans who either have been brainwashed by their professors or who have underlying, pre-existing antisemitic attitudes. Few of them have been to the Middle East and many of them are ignorant about basic facts about it — remember the Wall Street Journal piece, “From Which River to Which Sea?

“The Daily” episode made it crisply concrete, with the Times representing Jews as being split 50-50, with one normative Jew and one Jew chanting “there is only one solution, intifada revolution.” That’s ridiculous, yet a similar approach contaminates other Times coverage of the Jewish community, misleadlingly portraying American Jewry as deeply divided rather than unified around the goals of getting the hostages back, eliminating the threat of Hamas, and making American college campuses safe for Jewish students.

The Times was at this game well before Oct. 7, 2023, proclaiming “the unraveling of American Zionism” and trotting out old chestnuts such as the Reform movement’s Pittsburgh Platform of 1885 and the New York Times‘ favorite Jew, Peter Beinart.

I find myself rolling my eyes at such depictions, but there is clearly some audience for them among the Times readership and top editorial ranks. The Times executive editor, Joe Kahn, told Semafor’s Ben Smith in a May interview, “I’m not an active Jew.” Maybe the New York Times can sell sweatshirts: “Inactive Jew.” Who, exactly, is supposed to find that distinction between “active” and “inactive” Jews reassuring? Maybe they can put it on top of the front page in place of “All the News That’s Fit to Print”: “Edited by someone who wants the public to know he’s not an active Jew.”

Of all the moments to choose to distance oneself publicly from the Jewish people, this is sure quite one to choose.

This “Daily” episode seems calculated to appeal to the inactive Jews, and to others who want justification to believe it’s not antisemitic to set up on Passover and falsely accuse Israel of genocide. It’s nice for the Times to include a Zionist voice on the program, but he wound up sandwiched in between a Palestinian and an “only one solution, intifada revolution” person. It’s fairly typical for the New York Times these days, but it isn’t pretty.

Ira Stoll was managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post. His media critique, a regular Algemeiner feature, can be found here. He also writes at TheEditors.com.

The post ‘Israel Is Not Jewish People,’ New York Times ‘Daily’ Guest Really Wants You to Know first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Palestinian Islamic Jihad Releases Second Video of Israeli Hostage Sasha Troufanov

Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov as seen in an undated propaganda video released by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group on May 30, 2024. Photo: Screenshot

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group on Thursday released a second propaganda video this week featuring Israeli hostage Alexander (Sasha) Trufanov, 28, who was kidnapped by Palestinian terrorists during Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel.

In the video, Trufanov says he is doing well and criticizes Israel’s prime minister and government in remarks that were likely scripted by his captors.

There was no information about when the video was filmed. However, Trufanov refers to Israel’s decision on May 5 to order the local offices of Qatar’s Al Jazeera satellite news network to close, indicating he may have been filmed in the last few weeks.

The latest video came just two days after Islamic Jihad, an Iran-backed Palestinian terrorist group in Gaza, released its first video featuring Trufanov.

The 30-second undated video shows Trufanov, an Amazon employee, identifying himself and saying that he will soon discuss what has happened to him and other hostages in Gaza.

Similar videos have been released by terrorists groups in Gaza. Israel has lambasted them as psychological warfare meant to torture the Israeli public, especially the families of the hostages being held in Gaza.

Trufanov’s mother said after the first video was released that she was happy to see her son after all this time, but it was “heartbreaking” that he had been a hostage for so long.

“Seeing my Sasha on my TV was very cheering, but it also breaks my heart that he’s still been in captivity for so long,” she said in a video released by the family. “I ask everyone, all the decision-makers: Please do everything, absolutely everything, to bring my son and all the hostages home now.”

Hamas-led Palestinian terrorists abducted over 250 people during their Oct. 7 onslaught. Sasha was kidnapped alongside his mother, grandmother, and girlfriend. All three women were released as part of a temporary ceasefire agreement negotiated in November. His father, Vitaly Trufanov, was one of the 1,200 people killed during the Hamas massacre.

“The proof of life from Alexsander (Sasha) Trufanov is additional evidence that the Israeli government must give a significant mandate to the negotiating team,” the Hostages Families Forum, which represents the families of the hostages, said in a statement.

More than 120 hostages remain in Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas. Islamic Jihad is a separate but allied terrorist organization in the Palestinian enclave. Both are backed by Iran, which provides them with money, weapons, and training.

Negotiations brokered by Qatar, Egypt, and the US to reach a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas in Gaza have been stalled for weeks.

Trufanov was an engineer at the Israeli microelectronics company Annapurna Labs, which Amazon owns.

The post Palestinian Islamic Jihad Releases Second Video of Israeli Hostage Sasha Troufanov first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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Israel’s Kafkaesque Ordeal at the ICC

Proceedings at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, February 16, 2021. Photo: ICC-CPI/Handout via Reuters.

Israel is facing unprecedented and bizarre proceedings at the International Criminal Court (ICC), crescendoing with a request by Prosecutor Karim Khan for arrest warrants against its sitting Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant.

These events are the result of a multi-faceted and long-developing campaign by anti-Israel activists that has largely advanced under the radar.

Firstly, Israel is not a member of the Court and does not recognize ICC jurisdiction over its actions. In the late 1990s, Israel was initially a strong backer of the ICC, but during the drafting of the Court’s governing Rome Statute, the Arab League blocked efforts to include terrorism as an international crime and helped invent a new crime that would specifically target Israeli activity across the 1949 armistice lines. For these reasons, Israel refused to ratify the Rome Statute and join the Court.

In any other situation, this would be the end of the matter. However, beginning in 2009, the Palestinian Authority (PA), acting in collaboration with UN Rapporteurs and European-funded NGOs linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine terror group, attempted to join the Court.

Rather than dismiss the PA’s effort immediately because the PA is not a state — and ICC membership is only available to states — the ICC Prosecutor at the time, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, launched a PR campaign to ostensibly “debate” the issue. Three years later, he rejected the PA’s application, but instead provided a blueprint facilitating the Palestinians’ ability to circumvent the clear standards of the Rome Statute.

In November 2012, the Palestinians succeeded in upgrading their status at the UN to “non-member observer state.” Merely on the basis of this semantic, rather than substantive change, ICC officials allowed the Palestinians to game the system and join the Court.

Despite these machinations and exploitation of the Court, the next Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, filed a request with the Court’s Pre-Trial chamber (PTC) in December 2019 seeking authorization to open an investigation into crimes allegedly committed on the territory of the “State of Palestine,” despite the fact that this state does not exist and has no defined territory. Moreover, she argued that the Court could proceed against Israelis, regardless of whether it was a member of the Court.

This action, endorsed by the PTC in February 2021 in a controversial 2-1 opinion, essentially eviscerated the Oslo Accords, the agreement mutually agreed to between Israel and the PLO in the mid-1990s, which lays out governance of the West Bank and Gaza.

A key provision of the Accords is that the PA would not have any authority to exercise or delegate any criminal jurisdiction over Israelis to the Court. The Prosecutor and the Court completely ignored this issue.

In yet another unbelievable move, the Court next also allowed the Palestinians to retroactively assign temporal jurisdiction going back to June 13, 2014, precisely the day after the kidnapping and subsequent murder of three Israeli teenagers, which triggered the war that summer. This meant that Hamas’ brutal murder and kidnapping of Jews, a preview of what Israel would experience on a larger scale on October 7, would get a free pass from the Court.

Fast-forward to Khan’s move to file for arrest warrants against Netanyahu and Gallant. Here, too, the Prosecutor’s office engaged in highly questionable conduct. Khan could have already issued indictments against Hamas leaders on October 7 itself, when their flagrant crimes were broadcast around the world. Instead, he chose to wait until after manufactured allegations of “starvation” could be crafted against Israeli officials. He also inexplicably ignored thousands of other war crimes, including each rocket attack on Israel, committed by Palestinians since 2014.

In yet another outrageous move, at the time of the announcement, Khan’s team had been scheduled to attend meetings in Israel. However, the planned trip appears to have been a bad faith ruse. Instead of the team boarding the plane, Khan went on CNN to tell Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview about the arrest warrant requests. It doesn’t take an expert in communications to know that such a step would generate a storm of PR almost solely focused on Israel, meaning attention on the Hamas atrocities and real crimes committed on October 7 would be virtually ignored.

One also wonders if any mind was paid to what this action might mean for any hope of a ceasefire to secure the release of the hostages.

Egregiously, Khan’s actions offended another cornerstone of the Rome Statute, that of complementarity. The ICC is only supposed to act as a court of last resort in situations where a judicial system is unable or unwilling to investigate international crimes. As he himself acknowledged on a visit to Israel in early December, Israel has robust investigatory mechanisms and judiciary — one that has never shied away from intervening in military matters, nor in going after the most senior officials, including prime ministers.

Instead of giving the Israeli system a reasonable time to proceed, however, the Prosecutor disregarded the complementarity requirement and decided to bulldoze forward. In contrast, although Khan has had for years the jurisdiction to act against President Maduro in Venezuela, the Taliban in Afghanistan, and military junta in Myanmar — authoritarian governments responsible for horrific atrocities — no cases have been filed.

Multiple procedural irregularities and political maneuverings of the Office of Prosecutor have been well-documented, and there are several other disturbing aspects to the “Situation in Palestine” not mentioned here. For years, the ICC has been under intense criticism for its lack of accomplishments in its more than 20 years of operation. Khan was brought in to serve as a sober and responsible actor to right the ship. The actions of his office the past few months now call this assessment into question.

In an interview published with the Times of London a few days after his inexplicable actions, Khan stated, “if we don’t hold on to the law, we have nothing to cling onto.” The Prosecutor would be wise to reflect on his Office’s history and follow his own advice.

Anne Herzberg is the Legal Advisor of NGO Monitor, a Jerusalem-based research organization.

The post Israel’s Kafkaesque Ordeal at the ICC first appeared on Algemeiner.com.

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