ElectronicIntifada.net’s co-founder and executive director, Ali Abunimah, provided the following statement to NewsGuard on Feb. 2, 2024, in response to NewsGuard’s emailed questions about the site’s editorial practices. NewsGuard also interviewed Abunimah about the site’s practices in a phone conversation on Jan. 23, 2024. A portion of these correspondences appear in the Nutrition Label for ElectronicIntifada.net.

Hi Macrina,

Please see my responses to your inquiries below.

On Feb 1, 2024, at 3:16 PM, Macrina Wang <macrina.wang@newsguardtech.com> wrote:

Hello Mr. Abunimah,

I hope you are well. I was also wondering whether you wanted to comment on two other claims that I brought up in our phone call last week. Again, these comments will be on-the-record.

Regarding the video interview that characterized claims that Hamas fighters conducted mass rapes of Israeli women during its Oct. 7, 2023, attack as part of a “deceptive campaign based not on evidence but emotional manipulation, outlandish claims, distortion and an appeal to racist notions that Palestinians are inherently violent and cruel”:

  • During our phone call, you challenged some of the debunk links I sent you, including the New York Times article and the testimony from ZAKA. You said, “It amazes me that you could have watched the first video and still read the sources you cited with a complete lack of critical thinking.” However, there remains a significant body of evidence — eyewitness accountsinvestigations from outlets other than The Times, and NGOs such as Physicians for Human Rights-Israel — demonstrating that Hamas committed many instances of sexual violence against Israelis during its Oct. 7, 2023, attack.
  • Do you want to provide further comment on this claim?

It would appear to me that my initial assessment that your company and managers have already decided what “nutrition label” they want to put on The Electronic Intifada, and have simply assigned you to try to pick holes in our solid reporting to reach that predetermined conclusion.

As a result, you are compromising your own personal integrity by continuing to make false assertions about what The Electronic Intifada has published. You quote me as saying, “It amazes me that you could have watched the first video and still read the sources you cited with a complete lack of critical thinking.”

I stand by and reaffirm that statement in the light of the contents of your latest email. You assert: “However, there remains a significant body of evidence — eyewitness accounts, investigations from outlets other than The Times, and NGOs such as Physicians for Human Rights-Israel — demonstrating that Hamas committed many instances of sexual violence against Israelis during its Oct. 7, 2023, attack.”

This statement is factually incorrect. The other articles you cite largely recycle and regurgitate largely the same allegations and claims, from the same dubious, unverified and biased sources that The Electronic Intifada has examined and covered. Contrary to the suggestion in your email, we have covered far more articles and sources than just the fraudulent New York Times “investigation” by Jeffrey Gettleman. We have looked at articles and reports on CNN, The Sunday Times (UK), The Washington Post, The Times of Israel, Haaretz and others, and they repeat the same pattern that we identified in our extensive coverage: sensational allegations followed by dubious, uncorroborated and unverifiable claims, followed by excuse after excuse for why this supposedly pervasive campaign of sexual violence is so hard to prove, and why not a single victim has actually come forward. These claims are largely being pushed by Israeli official sources or organizations that engage in propaganda on behalf of the Israeli government.

Nothing in the sources you sent me now changes that conclusion. It appears to me that you are simply relying on their ‘brand name’ prestige to get around the reality that they do not offer anything substantially different.

Let’s go through the sources you are throwing at me now and see what they offer in terms of, as you put it, “a significant body of evidence — eyewitness accounts, investigations from outlets other than the Times …”

(1) “New signs emerge of ‘widespread’ sexual crimes by Hamas, as Netanyahu alleges global indifference,” AP, 6 December 2023


This piece states: “A man hiding in a pit during the Oct. 7 Hamas assault on an outdoor music festival in Israel said he heard someone nearby screaming she was being raped. Elsewhere in the area, a combat paramedic saw the body of a young woman with her legs open, her pants pulled down, and what looked like semen on her lower back. An army reservist who was tasked with identifying those killed by the militants said some of the women were found wearing only bloodied underwear.”

Later in the piece it states: “Ron Freger fled the music festival when Hamas attacked and said he heard a woman screaming for help. ‘I was lying in a pit (and) I heard (a girl) yelling: ‘They’re raping me, they’re raping me!’’ he told the AP.”

This same Ron Freger  gives his account in this video promoted by an Israeli propaganda initiative, called “The Civil Advocacy Center.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlmpF9dH7A0). This propaganda initiative, which appears to be pushing these “witnesses” into the media, explicitly supports the genocidal war on Gaza and has an interest in spreading atrocity propaganda for which it offers no corroboration. For example, one of its projects is called “Swipe4Israel. An experiential application designed to increase engagement with posts in favor of Israel and to report posts against Israel, using a user-friendly game.” In other words, Ron Freger is not a credible or independent eyewitness, but part of a PR operation fed to many media outlets only to happy to pick up whatever Israel feeds them.

This is an unreliable source and these are allegations, not evidence.

The AP piece also recycles the unverified claim repeated in countless other reports from a “combat medic,” i.e. a member of the Israeli army.

(2) The NBC report from Dec 5 is not an “investigation” as you assert, but rather a regurgitation of atrocity propaganda and allegations from the same Israeli army that the International Court of Justice just found is plausibly conducting a genocide. The NBC report states:

“The evidence, primarily from the Israel Defense Forces and Israeli officials, suggests that dozens of Israeli women were raped or sexually abused or mutilated during the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks. According to first responders, one was mutilated with a pair of scissors and another stabbed with a knife. The genitals of some men who had been killed were mutilated as well.”

Is credulously and unquestioningly accepting assertions from any government — let alone one plausibly accused by the highest World Court of committing  genocide against those it is accusing of mass rapes — what you and Newsguard consider to be an “investigation”?

Note that the NBC report claims: “The most detailed eyewitness account of rape is from a young woman who attended the Supernova music festival where more than 350 young people were killed. ‘They laid a woman down and I understood that he is raping her …they passed her on to another person“ the witness told police in a video reviewed by NBC News. “And he cuts her breasts, he throws it on the road they are playing with it.’”

Once again, this appears to be the same alleged eywitness identified as “Sapir” in the fraudulent New York Times story, so nothing new here.

(3) The Phyiscians for Human Rights report: While we didn’t address this directly in our coverage, I have read it and it does not resolve the problem of the lack of evidence. (https://www.phr.org.il/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/5771_Sexual_Violence_paper_Eng-final.pdf)

PHRI admits that it did not do its own independent investigation or speak to any alleged victims. It states:

“Accounts have been collected from several publicly available sources, including media reports and social media networks, and through interviews we conducted with several professional sources. The evidence collection process continues to be carried out by state and civil society actors, including through the establishment of the Civil Archive for the Documentation of Crimes Committed Against Women by Hamas.”

Note that the “Civil Archive for the Documentation of Crimes Committed Against Women by Hamas” appears to be the same propaganda initiative headed by Cochav Elkayam-Halevy which we examined in detail in this video and which cannot be considered credible or reliable: https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/watch-debunking-israels-mass-rape-propaganda

It also quotes Orit Sulitzeanu, whose role in covering up the fact that no victims have been identified we covered in our separate video on the fraudulent New York Times story.

As an example of how the PHRI report brings nothing new, they include this paragraph, which seems very compelling on its surface: “A male survivor who had been hiding in a bush described the following account: “The terrorists, people from Gaza, raped girls. And after they raped them, they killed them, murdered them with knives…They laughed. They always laughed. It’s – I can’t forget how they laughed on the – in this situation.”

When you follow the footnote, you see that this “male survivor” is once again Raz Cohen, giving one of his many varying accounts of what he supposedly witnessed, to the PBS Newshour. We also address his changing testimony, as have other publications, in our video on the New York Times and in a follow up report in our livestream of 31 January.

They also assert, ” At least two testimonies described the mastectomy of women, while an additional account described the dissection of a pregnant woman’s abdomen and the stabbing of the fetus.”

This appears to be a reference to at least in once case to the outlandish claims of “Sapir,” the alleged eyewitness who featured in the fraudulent New York Times articles and which we have now discussed in detail on two broadcasts, including our most recent on 31 January. The second appears to be the fake story of the pregnant woman whose belly was cut open that was fabricated by Yossi Landau of ZAKA, and which we also addressed in detail in our video on the fraudulent New York Times story.

PHRI also states: “It is important to note that this position paper does not attempt or aim to meet legal thresholds.” 

I am obviously not going to go through the PHRI report page by page here, but these examples characterize how it does not in any way negate our reporting and conclusions and simply displays the same patterns of sensational claims, unverified allegations and excuses for why this supposed mass rape campaign is just so hard to prove. Notably PHRI does not even conclude that the alleged rapes were necessarily systematic or part of a plan but calls for investigation.

Given the extensive problems in the PHRI report, only a few of which I have addressed here, relying on it to claim that we have published “false content” would be false and possibly even defamatory.

Regarding the claim that Israel killed “many, if not most” of the civilians that died on Oct. 7:

  • The claim that Israel killed most of the civilians that died on Oct. 7 is unsupported with the currently available evidence. During our phone call, you pointed out that “the article doesn’t say ‘most,’ it says ‘many, if not most.'” 
  • Do you want to provide further comment on this claim?

I addressed this specific claim in detail in our segment addressing the fabrications, distortions and lies of The Washington Post’s hit piece on us. You can hear my answer in this video:


What we acknowledge in all our reporting is that we do not know the exact number of people Israel killed on Oct 7 using tank fire and Apaches, though it was undoubtedly a large number. I would welcome a credible, independent investigation to determine the truth, something Israel has not allowed. Neither do you or NewsGuard know the exact number. So for you to claim that our careful statement that does not definitely conclude that it is a majority is “false content” is an unsupportable statement that you cannot back up with any definitive data as to how many people were killed, where and by whom.

Upon speaking with my editors, these instances of false content mean the site will also not meet NewsGuard’s standard for gathering and presenting information responsibly.

I urge you again to take off the lens you have been given in which we must be found to be unreliable by any means necessary, otherwise you risk producing a false and even defamatory report on us. In any case, we look forward to examining it in detail on one of our livestreams. I hope we will be able to praise your report for its fairness and accuracy, but the way things are going, I expect we will need to add NewsGuard to our growing list of debunkings alongside Lizza Dwoskin and Jeffrey Gettleman, among others.

As always, we welcome your comments and feedback. 

All the best,

You’re most welcome