Algerian Senator denies October 7 rapes, ignites uproar in meeting with Israeli MKs

Hafida Benchehida, an Algerian Senator, participated in a global conference of parliamentary members and denied October 7 atrocities; Israeli MKs present took offense, saying, 'Your response is shameful and exactly demonstrates Israel's claims about the world's hypocrisy'
An unusual dispute occurred on Wednesday between two members of the Israeli Knesset and an Algerian delegate at a global conference of parliamentary members in Athens, Greece. The disagreement began when Israeli Knesset Member Efrat Rayten spoke about the atrocities of October 7, which the Algerian representative, Hafida Benchehida, denied, specifically the sexual assault incidents committed by the terrorists during the deadly attack.
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Benchehida, a former Algerian senator and currently a high-ranking representative of an organization that represents women in Arab countries' parliaments, interrupted Rayten's speech, saying: "No rape incidents happened there". Responding to this, the Israeli MK countered: "Your response is shameful and exactly demonstrates Israel's claims about the world's hypocrisy. You can't disbelieve Israeli women just because they are Israelis. Women's organizations and female parliamentarians must stand with us in condemning the heinous actions of the Hamas terror organization".
The confrontation
A video capturing the dispute also showed MK Pnina Tamano-Shata confronting Benchehida, exclaiming: "They went to a party and they were raped, and kidnapped and shot in the head. Shot in the head!". Other attendees can be heard agreeing with Tamano-Shata in the video, with one noting that the terrorists broadcasted the atrocities live on social networks. However, presumably Benchehida, who stood up from the table amid the heated argument, replied: "It was fake". An immediate response from another participant countered: "It was not fake!"
Parliamentarians from around the world who participated in the panel expressed their support for the two Israeli Members of Knesset. Following the confrontation, Irene Charalambidou, a member of parliament from Cyprus, stated: "There is no doubt that there was evidence of rape incidents on October 7."
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ועידת הנשים של המדינה
ועידת הנשים של המדינה
Efrat Rayten
(Photo: Yair Sagi)
This confrontation occurs amid a backdrop of considerable frustration in Israel, which stems from what is seen as the silence of international women's and human rights organizations concerning the horrific events of October 7, especially the instances of rape and sexual violence that occurred then.
Five months after what is considered the most devastating terrorist attack in Israel's history, the United Nations (UN) published a report confirming the presence of substantial evidence of these rape incidents. However, it was suggested in Israel that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was attempting to downplay the severe findings of the report. This report was compiled by his Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Areas, Pramila Patten. A discussion on the matter was conducted in the UN Security Council only after pressure from Israel, but an official decision on the matter is still pending.
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