Network's liveblog still carrying falsified report

Al Jazeera takes down video falsely alleging IDF rapes in Shifa Hospital

Qatari network’s ex-director says ‘Hamas investigations’ have debunked claim broadcast by news channel hours earlier; claimant wanted ‘to arouse the nation’s fervor’

Illustrative: Injured people sit inside Shifa Hospital on February 29, 2024 in Gaza City. (AP Photo)
Illustrative: Injured people sit inside Shifa Hospital on February 29, 2024 in Gaza City. (AP Photo)

A former managing director of Qatari news outlet Al Jazeera took to Twitter Sunday night to disavow the network’s false allegation that soldiers from the Israeli Defense Forces had raped women during their ongoing operation in Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital.

“Hamas investigations revealed that the story of the rape of women in Shifa Hospital was fabricated,” wrote Yasser Abu Hilalah on X. “Of course, the enemy did not hesitate to commit the crime of genocide,” he added.

On Sunday morning, Al Jazeera quoted a woman named Jamila al-Hissi, said to have been trapped in the hospital for six days, as saying that Israeli soldiers there had “raped women, kidnapped women, executed women, and pulled dead bodies from under the rubble to unleash their dogs on them.”

The report quoting al-Hissi was still available on Al Jazeera’s liveblog as of Monday afternoon, but a video of her testimony was apparently removed.

“Is there anything worse than this? Is there anything more horrifying than hearing women call for help, and when we try to reach them to provide assistance, they shoot at us?” al-Hissi had been quoted as saying.

In his retraction, Abu Hilalah wrote on X that al-Hissi later “justified her exaggeration and incorrect talk by saying that the goal was to arouse the nation’s fervor and brotherhood.”

“As if more than 30,000 martyrs, 90,000 wounded, about a million displaced people, and comprehensive destruction were not enough,” added the former Al Jazeera director.

IDF troops operate at Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip, in a handout image published by the military on March 19, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

The IDF’s Arabic spokesperson, Lt. Col. Avichai Adraee, denied the accusation, saying in a video posted to X that “[t]here is no evidence for these allegations. One woman called and said she was calling from the so-called medical complex. No one knows who she is. She just claimed and claimed and lied.”

“Let Al Jazeera and the mouthpieces of Hamas take this lie and spread it,” added Adraee, accusing “Al Jazeera and the Hamas media mouthpieces” of attempting to whitewash “the acts of rape, massacres and arson” carried out by “Hamas-ISIS” in southern Israel on October 7.

The IDF’s nearly weeklong operation at Shifa Hospital, the Gaza Strip’s largest medical complex, is ongoing, with the military saying that among some 800 suspects detained by troops so far, 480 have been confirmed to be members of the Hamas or Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror groups.

File: Weapons found at Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital, March 18, 2024. (Israel Defense Forces)

Troops have also located infrastructure and caches of weapons belonging to terror groups over the past day, the IDF said.

The issue of battlefield sexual violence has emerged as a lightning rod in the current Israel-Hamas war, with Israel accusing its critics of ignoring Hamas’s sexual violence altogether, both during the October 7 onslaught and against hostages still held in Gaza.

Critics have at various times accused Israel of using Hamas’s sexual violence on October 7 as a pretext for war crimes in Gaza, as others have denied or downplayed the Palestinian terror group’s weaponization of rape. Hamas has both denied and celebrated its sexual violence during the October 7 onslaught.

On October 7, thousands of Hamas-led terrorists stormed southern Israel to kill nearly 1,200 people, mainly civilians, while taking over 250 hostages of all ages.

File: Residential homes, severely damaged during Hamas’s October 7 onslaught on southern Israel, line a street in the Olives Neighborhood of Kibbutz Be’eri on January 1, 2024. (Canaan Lidor/Times of Israel)

Vowing to dismantle the terror group and release the hostages, Israel launched an unprecedented ground and air campaign on Gaza, destroying about half the Strip’s residences and displacing over a million people. United Nations officials have said that “famine is imminent” in the enclave.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry says more than 32,000 people in the Strip have been killed in the fighting so far, a figure that cannot be independently verified and includes some 13,000 Hamas terrorists Israel says it has killed in battle. Israel also says it killed some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.

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