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AP debunks allegations of sexual violence by Hamas

May 23, 2024 at 1:35 pm

Protesters gather outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office to stage a demonstration demanding the resignation of Netanyahu’s government and calling for the release of the hostages on May 22, 2024 in western Jerusalem [Saeed Qaq/Anadolu Agency]

Accounts of sexual violence that surfaced after Palestinian resistance fighters infiltrated towns and villages around Gaza on 7 October have been proven to be untrue, the Associated Press said.

In an article titled “How 2 debunked accounts of sexual violence on Oct. 7 fueled a global dispute over Israel-Hamas war”, the news agency said Chaim Otmazgin, an Israeli who had accused Hamas of committing sexual violence, as saying: “It’s not that I invented a story … At the end, it turned out to be different, so I corrected myself.”

In an interview with AP, the ZAKA volunteer detailed the origins of his initial claim, saying he found the body of a teenager shot dead. “Her pants had been pulled down below her waist. He thought that was evidence of sexual violence,” and told journalists of his findings. But he was wrong.

READ: Israel says UN trying to keep quiet on report about Hamas sexual attacks

Otmazgin’s colleague Yossi Landau told the press he had seen “a pregnant woman lying on the floor, her foetus still attached to the umbilical cord wrenched from her body.” His account was not corroborated by others who entered the room, including Otmazgin, who said he saw “the body of a heavy-set woman and an unidentifiable hunk attached to an electric cable. Everything was charred.”

Though Landau was told that he had misinterpreted what he saw, he continued to tell journalists his story, adding that there had been beheaded children on site.

The UN has found that Landau’s claims are unfounded.

AP said: “It took ZAKA months to acknowledge the accounts were wrong, allowing them to proliferate. And the fallout from the debunked accounts shows how the topic of sexual violence has been used to further political agendas.”