NY Times found no 7 October rape victims, reporter admits

The scandal is growing around The New York Times’ fraudulent “investigation” of mass rapes supposedly committed by Hamas fighters on 7 October – claims made by the newspaper that The Electronic Intifada thoroughly debunked in early January.

On this week’s Electronic Intifada livestream we looked at some of the latest developments – in particular the revelation that Anat Schwartz, one of the two Israeli propagandists who assisted lead New York Times reporter Jeffrey Gettleman, apparently endorsed extreme anti-Palestinian views.

You can watch that segment above.

The third writer, Adam Sella, turns out to be a fresh graduate with little journalistic experience, and is the nephew of Schwartz’s partner, heightening concerns about nepotism and conflict of interest at the so-called newspaper of record.

Schwartz herself has never been a reporter, but advertises herself as a filmmaker.

As we explain, Schwartz and Sella convinced one woman to hand over a video that they believed would boost the evidence-free claims of rape by telling her it would help Israeli propaganda – or hasbara.

“At first I didn’t consider it meaningful, I didn’t understand how important it was, but they didn’t give up. They called me again and again and explained how important this is to Israeli hasbara,” the woman told Israeli news outlet Ynet.

Revelations keep coming

Since Wednesday’s livestream, more explosive revelations have come out about the scandal around the now notorious New York Times article published in late December with the provocative title “‘Screams Without Words’: How Hamas Weaponized Sexual Violence on Oct. 7.”

On Wednesday, The Intercept reported on an interview Schwartz gave in Hebrew to a podcast produced by Israel’s Channel 12.

Schwartz admitted in the 3 January podcast that “I have no qualifications” to conduct such a sensitive and complex journalistic assignment.

Also in that interview, “Schwartz details her extensive efforts to get confirmation from Israeli hospitals, rape crisis centers, trauma recovery facilities and sex assault hotlines in Israel, as well as her inability to get a single confirmation from any of them,” The Intercept reports.

Schwartz contacted 11 specialized facilities at Israeli hospitals that treat potential survivors of rape and sexual assault, but to no avail.

“First thing I called them all, and they told me, ‘No, no complaint of sexual assault was received,’” she said in the Channel 12 podcast. “I had a lot of interviews which didn’t lead anywhere. Like, I would go to all kinds of psychiatric hospitals, sit in front of the staff, all of them are fully committed to the mission and no one had met a victim of sexual assault.”

She then followed up with the head of the sexual assault hotline in southern Israel, only to be told that there had been no reports of sexual violence related to the 7 October events.

Times defends fraudulent reporting

This total failure to find a single victim ought to have alerted the Times that the only story here was of a massive hoax intended to incite genocidal hatred and violence against Palestinians.

But even to this day, the newspaper is defending its fraudulent reporting.

Schwartz “was told there had been no complaints made of sexual assaults,” a Times spokesperson told The Intercept. “This however was just the very first step of her research. She then describes the unfolding of evidence, testimonies and eventual evidence that there may have been systematic use of sexual assault.”

This spin cannot conceal that, in fact, Gettleman, Schwartz and Sella never positively identified a single specific victim of rape, living or dead. Nor do any of their four “eyewitnesses” of alleged mass rape incidents have any credibility.

The best they could do was imply that an Israeli woman who was killed that day, Gal Abdush, had been raped.

But that innuendo has been rejected by members of Abdush’s family who say they have never been shown any evidence that she was raped.

They also accused the Times of manipulating and deceiving them into taking part in the Gettleman-led story.

At an event at Columbia University last month, Gettleman too backed away from his own reporting, claiming that it wasn’t his job to produce “evidence,” but that he was merely sharing “information” and working to “give people a voice.”

As The Intercept notes, the statement from the Times in effect “walked back the blockbuster article’s framing that evidence shows Hamas had weaponized sexual violence to a softer claim that ‘there may have been systematic use of sexual assault.’”

But rather than re-examining its reporting honestly and transparently, the Times has launched an internal witch hunt to root out staffers who have leaked their concerns about the fraudulent reporting of the Gettleman team.

And clearly the newspaper is rattled. Speaking on Democracy Now Thursday, The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill revealed that instead of correcting its own egregious errors and deceptions, the Times demanded a “correction” from The Intercept.

The Times’ demand was based on the ludicrous grounds that Sella could not be called Schwartz’s “nephew” because he is actually the nephew not of Schwartz but of her partner.

Schwartz also broke her silence Wednesday, thanking the Times for standing by her fraudulent reporting. She also lied that she had only “liked” one anti-Palestinian tweet and that it was “inadvertent.”

The role of independent media

While The Intercept has done some important reporting, adding to the pressure on The New York Times, it comes late to this story.

Weeks after The Electronic Intifada, Mondoweiss, The Grayzone and the popular Twitter account @zei_squirrel had debunked the “mass rape” claims, The Intercept was still credulously promoting them.

“One thing is true: Hamas and other Palestinian militants committed unspeakable sexual violence against Israeli civilians on October 7,” begins a 24 December article in The Intercept by Judith Levine.

“Yes, some individuals and extreme-left organizations have denied these atrocities or upheld them as justified resistance,” Levine claims, an appalling smear The Intercept should retract.

What we did and will continue to do is report based on facts.

Will The Intercept show the level of accountability it now rightly demands of The Times for spreading Israel’s deadly lies?




We subscribed to the Boston Globe until discovering that it did not publish corrections of too many of its pro-Israeli biased reportage and commentary, At 96, I have never subscribed to the NYT for the same reason.


I too want to applaud Electronic Intifada's ground breaking work on Palestine since its inception around 2000 or near the end of the 90s decade.

First big moment for me was the Al-Jazeera scrapping of 2 documentaries about the 1948 Nakba and the other one about the zionist lobby in the US, one of the 2 documentaries retaking/publicly shown by EI and Le Monde Diplomatique. Wish there could be more shared work / collaboration between these two.

The false rape story by Israel on October the 7th has to be one of the best EI investigating work so far (there have been so many through the years). I'm taking this time to congratulate the team at EI. They were the first to break this story, not The intercept and not Democracy Now, for which I have never worked for nor have any prior animosity towards. But the last DM piece on this (Scahill-Grim interviews) was very disappointing and misleading. Credit for this story and the killing of Israelis by Israeli so called friendly fire on October 7th should be giving to EI, Mondoweiss and the Grayzone.


One of the released hostages claimed some other hostage told her they were raped. Has that alleged victim's name been released? Of course, for privacy reasons it probably shouldn't be.

My prediction is that once Israel gets a list of the dead hostages, they'll pick one of the dead women to be the victim so the charge can't be disproved. The name of the alleged tunnel victim should be given to a neutral 3rd party prior to the release of the list of dead and living hostages.


H. L. Mencken (1880 - 1956): “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.”

William Casey (CIA Director 1981-1987): “We’ll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false.”

Albert Einstein: "The most important aspect of our policy must be our ever-present, manifest desire to institute complete equality for the Arab citizens living in our midst … The attitude we adopt toward the Arab minority will provide the real test of our moral standards as a people. … What saddens me is less the fact that the Jews are not smart enough to understand this, but rather, that they are just not smart enough to want it.”

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Ali Abunimah

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.