The Guardian’s egregious double standards in reporting on sexual violence

It took the Guardian over three months to publish an article reporting that there was ‘credible evidence’ Hamas terrorists engaged in the sadistic rape, sexual torture and mutilation of Israeli women and girls on Oct. 7, despite a plethora of evidence that emerged in the early days and weeks following the antisemitic rampage on Israel’s southern communities.

Yet, it took the same outlet only a few days to report on, and give credibility to, allegations by several United Nations “experts” that Israeli forces have committed sexual violence against Palestinian women.

The article by Julian Borger, the Guardian’s world affairs editor, (“Claims of Israeli sexual assault of Palestinian women are credible, UN panel says”, Feb. 22), reported the following:

The panel of experts said there was evidence of a least two cases of rape, alongside other cases of sexual humiliation and threats of rape. Reem Alsalem, the UN special rapporteur on violence against women and girls, said the true extent of sexual violence could be significantly higher.

“We might not know for a long time what the actual number of victims are,” said Alsalem, who was appointed special rapporteur by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in 2021.

She noted that reticence in reporting sexual assault was common because of the fear of reprisals against victims. She said that in a wave of detentions of Palestinian women and girls after the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war on 7 October, there was an increasingly permissive attitude towards sexual assault in Israeli detention centres.

“I would say that, on the whole, violence and dehumanisation of Palestinian women and children and civilians has been normalised throughout this war,” Alsalem said.

However, as our colleague David Litman wrote in an in-depth post on the allegations, Alsalem (one of the “experts”) conceded in a correspondence with a journalist that she couldn’t provide details or sources. Another one of the “experts”, Francesca Albanese, the UN Special Rapporteur, has a history of antisemitism, and even suggested that Hamas had some justification for their massacre of Israelis on the 7th of October.

Further, Alsalem, a Jordanian Palestinian, not only failed to condemn Hamas’s use of sexual violence, but actively assisted Albanese in trying to cast doubt on the evidence.

The only source these “experts” were willing to point to, Litman wrote, was a report by an organisation called Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC), a group with a record of extremist activism against Israel, including defending Hamas’s ‘right’ to engage in violence.  The WCLAC report was sent to the UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten, whose office responded by expressing concern that their allegations don’t rise to the level of gravity that Ms. Patten’s mandate requires.

Litman notes that the WCLAC report references 14 victims, with eight alleging either being patted down or strip-searched. However, the report acknowledges that the soldiers doing the patting down or strip-searching of Palestinian women were female. Four of the allegations involve inappropriate, sexualized comments made toward the alleged victims. Four of the incidents allegedly involve Israeli forces beating the victims’ genital areas. One of the allegations involves groping.  So, while only four of the fourteen alleged incidents involve violence, the actual evidence for such crimes, Litman observed after reading the full report, is paper thin.

Further, of the four allegations of actual sexual violence, only one woman is actually named, Ahed Tamimi, one of the more well-known anti-Israel propagandists.

Ahed Tamimi in one of her propaganda videos striking an Israeli soldier.

The Israel Prison Services strongly denied Tamimi accusations, an no evidence appears to have been presented by her or her attorney to back up the charge.

The Guardian has provided yet another illustration of its instinctual skepticism over evidence pointing to Hamas war crimes, and its contrasting credulousness in the face of even the most flimsy and unevidenced Palestinian accusations against Israel.

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