Al Jazeera Quietly Deletes Story Falsely Alleging IDF Raped Palestinians in Gaza Hospital

(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
March 25, 2024

Qatari state-controlled news outlet Al Jazeera quietly deleted a story it had published for over 24 hours that featured fabricated allegations that Israeli soldiers raped Palestinian women at Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Al Jazeera reported in the original article that Jamila Al-Hessi, a Gazan woman, said she saw Israeli soldiers "raping women then killing them and burning entire families alive" after entering the hospital where Hamas terrorists had barricaded themselves. The story quickly went viral on social media, prompting widespread condemnation of the Israeli government and the Israel Defense Forces. 

But Yasser Abuhilalah, a columnist and former director at Al Jazeera, on Sunday admitted the story was fake, noting in an X post that "it was revealed through Hamas investigations that the story of the rape of women in Al-Shifa Hospital was fabricated." 

"The woman who spoke about rape justified her exaggeration and incorrect talk by saying that the goal was to arouse the nation’s fervor and brotherhood," Abuhilalah said, adding, "As if more than 30,000 martyrs, 90,000 wounded, about a million displaced people, and comprehensive destruction were not enough!"

Al Jazeera pulled all coverage featuring the story after it had appeared on the site for more than 24 hours, without issuing a statement or retraction, the Jerusalem Post reported.

Jihad Khelles, a pro-Hamas Gazan preacher, also said on X that there has been no evidence to substantiate Al-Hessi’s rape allegations against Israeli soldiers. Khelles lamented that such fabrication only "creates panic and fear" and "makes [Palestinians] feel despair and frustration at a time when we are most in need for stability and reassurance."

Al Jazeera has long been funded by and served as a mouthpiece for the Qatari government, which is a key ally and financial backer of Hamas. In November, Rep. Jack Bergman (R., Mich.) wrote in a letter to House speaker Mike Johnson (R., La.) that Al Jazeera was "openly endorsing Hamas's barbaric ideology" and "promot[ing] blood libels against Israel—and even calling for ‘Jihad’ against the United States and the West."