Israel to jail anyone who denies 7 October 'Hamas massacre' narrative

Israel to jail anyone who denies 7 October 'Hamas massacre' narrative
Israel could jail people who deny its narrative on the 7 October killings, as Knesset debates other controversial new laws.
3 min read
06 February, 2024
Netanyahu has been under fire for his handling of 7 October [Getty]

Israel may jail anyone who denies the 7 October "massacre" narrative and deport the families of "terrorists", amid a raft of controversial bills that are currently being debated in the Knesset.

Right-wing Yisrael Beytenu MK Oded Forer proposed a law which would see people jailed for five years for denying or downplaying the 7 October killings and/or expressing sympathy with Hamas's actions on the day.

"The denial of the massacre constitutes an attempt to rewrite history already at this stage, in an attempt to hide, minimize, and facilitate the crimes committed against the Jewish people and the State of Israel," the bill proposes.

Hamas and other Palestinian fighters broke out of the besieged Gaza on 7 October, attacking the border areas, resulting in the death of around 1,160 people in southern Israel, according to an AFP tally, and taking around 250 people captive.

There have been questions over the number of people killed that day, how many of the victims were serving soldiers, and whether Israeli forces accidentally killed civilians.

Israel and the US initially alleged 40 babies were beheaded by Hamas fighters at Kfar Aza, but later walked back on the claims when journalists asked for evidence.

Other government narratives about events that day have been questioned along with the role of Zaka in retrieving bodies, a Heredi volunteer rescue service that has been mired in controversy.

Haaretz recently published an investigation that highlighted the amateur work and negligence of Zaka volunteers during the process, including little or no documentation of what was essentially a crime scene and insufficient information written on body bags.

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Israelis have questioned why professional criminal forensic teams were not deployed to handle the bodies at kibbutzim and other sites and Zaka's "monopoly" over coronary activities there.

Likud MK Moshe Passal has now proposed a law to compensate the religious volunteers for their work in southern Israel.

"There is no doubt that the volunteers took a significant part and did hard work, both physically and mentally," said Passal, according to The Jerusalem Post.

"They were a significant part of the holy work for the people of Israel and worked together with the IDF, so they deserve to be rewarded for their important work."

Another bill proposes deporting the families of "terrorists" if they "knew in advance of the terror attack, expressed support for it, or issued words of praise, sympathy, or encouragement for the act of terrorism".

Meanwhile, a cross-party petition in Israel's parliament has been launched calling for a permanent cut to funding to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Ynet has reported.

Key donors - including the US, UK, and Germany - have frozen funding to the UN Palestinian refugee agency after Israeli claims that some of its workers were involved in the 7 October events.

Israeli MKs want this suspension of funding to be permanent, at a time when the agency is struggling to provide life-saving aid to millions of displaced people in Gaza, who are at grave risk of disease and famine.

Israel has since revised its claim of 12 members of UNRWA being involved to six and there have been doubts cast over the allegations of a UNRWA-Hamas link by media.