Why the Guardian’s ‘Hamas mass rape’ story doesn’t pass the sniff test

Why the Guardian’s ‘Hamas mass rape’ story doesn’t pass the sniff test

How is it that journalists are not pausing to question the outrageous improbability of so many of the evidence-poor Hamas rape stories being advanced?

The Guardian has just published the latest in the western media’s endless cycle of stories claiming Hamas committed “systematic, mass rape” on October 7. Its article is headlined: “Evidence points to systematic use of rape and sexual violence by Hamas in 7 October attacks”.

The biggest problem with these stories isn’t just the continuing absence of any meaningful evidence for “systematic” rape; or Israel’s long track record of lying to justify state terrorism; or Israel’s refusal to cooperate with independent investigators; or the racist, anti-Arab tropes that pass for sophisticated analysis in western circles.

It is simply the outrageous improbability of so many of the evidence-poor rape stories being advanced.

The Guardian recycles a supposed eyewitness account of a group of Hamas fighters taking turns to rape a woman at the Nova festival on October 7, then cutting off her breast to play a football-like game with it at the side of the road.

We are supposed to believe this happened when we also know – from facts provided by the Israeli media – that Hamas stumbled on to the Nova festival totally unprepared and on their way to what they assumed would be a major confrontation with the Israeli military at a nearby army base; that its fighters were quickly confronted by paramilitary Israeli police who engaged them in gun battles; and that Israeli Apache helicopters, with little intelligence to work on, were firing Hellfire missiles at anything that moved, based on the “Hannibal directive” to prevent hostage-taking at all costs.

Does any of that add up? Did Hamas’ most disciplined elite fighters – training for years and knowing that this might be their their only, brief moment to take on the Israeli army in a near-fair fight or drag hostages back to Gaza for a prisoner swap before the Israeli military used its air power to overwhelm them – really take time out to indulge in a sick game involving a woman’s breast?

How is it that no one – the Guardian reporter, her section editors, the paper’s editors – stopped for a moment and thought “Is this really plausible?” and “Am I being played to advance a nefarious agenda?” – in this case, genocide. Or did they simply recite in their minds – as Israel knew they would – “Believe women!”, especially if they are confirming a racist assumption that Arab men are blood-thirsty, sex-obsessed primitives.

Zaka commander Yossi Landau (L) with a colleague. (photo)

In fact, the Zaka volunteers who are being heavily relied on in this Guardian “report” are Jewish religious extremist men, also with a proven record of lying: they came up with the complete fabrication of “40 beheaded babies”, when no babies were beheaded. Two infants are recorded dying that day.

[Also see: “Scandal-stained Israeli ‘rescue’ group fuels October 7 fabrications“]

The woman leading the “Hamas mass rape” campaign – now an academic – is a former spokesperson for the Israeli military. Their job, as any honest reporter will tell you, is to lie to journalists to excuse Israel’s incessant war crimes.

What we now know – from multiple credible Israeli sources – is that Israel killed lots of its own civilians on October 7. Ynet, Israel’s biggest media outlet, has just published an investigation in Hebrew showing that Hamas successfully took out Israel’s all-seeing drone “eyes” over Gaza that day, leaving the Israeli military blind about what was happening. Panicked, Israeli commanders invoked the Hannibal directive, allowing those in the field to order tanks and helicopters to fire at anything that moved.

It was Israel that incinerated the hundreds of cars trying to flee the Nova festival, killing potentially hundreds of the 1,140 Israeli civilians that died that day, as well as Hamas fighters. It was an Israeli tank that incinerated 13 Israeli civilians, and 40 Hamas fighters, holed up in a house in Kibbutz Be’eri by blasting a shell through its front wall.

Israel, of course, wants no one, least of all the western media, talking about any of that. What it needs instead is anything that will help to distract from its crimes against its citizens and justify its committing of genocide against the people of Gaza. So it has every reason to serve up the “Hamas mass rape” story, feeding what it rightly assumes are the Islamophobic prejudices of most Israeli Jews and western reporters.

Journalists at the Guardian, the BBC and the rest of the establishment media are paid to play their role in regurgitating these lies to advance western foreign policy goals. You are not. So please hold on to your humanity – and refuse to play along with Israel and the media’s racist disinformation campaign.

I have written previously about the media’s peddling of deceptions about October 7. You can find those articles at these links:

Jonathan Cook is an award-winning British journalist. He was based in Nazareth, Israel, for 20 years. He returned to the UK in 2021. He is the author of three books on the Israel-Palestine conflict.


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