The Al-Jazeera TV channel published a news report last week, featuring a Ukrainian woman who volunteered for service in the Israeli Defense Forces. In her alleged testimony, the woman says she was asked to kill civilians and children during her time in the army.
However, Israeli news service Ynetnews disputes the Al-Jazeera report, revealing that the video clip that the Qatari-based news agency ran with was refuted almost 4 years ago—and that it came from a highly-scripted Ukrainian gameshow.
The report follows in the wake of the Israeli government’s increased scrutiny of Al Jazeera operation in Israel, due to the apparent bias in its reportage of the country and its citizens.
Ynetnews says that the woman in question, Elena Zakusilo, did volunteer for the IDF and served in a junior administrative position. They say that her testimony is entirely false, and was proven to be fake shortly after the show aired. It was aired on a TV show called “Lie Detector,” in an episode that aired in November 2013.
In the clip used by Al-Jazeera, the woman who said she served in the IDF for six years was asked a question about whether she was a professional soldier, and whether she was still working with the military or any Israeli intelligence agencies.
She responded “yes” to both questions, adding that she now provides security for an Israeli airline operating out of a Ukrainian city.
When the host asked Zakusilo if she killed anyone, she answered “yes,” to which the “lie detector” on the show indicates that she is telling the truth. She then explained that she was ordered to kill civilians—including children.
The episode caused uproar among the Muslim community in Ukraine, prompting the Israeli government to take a look at her claims. Ynetnews reports that she gave false testimony on the show following an investigation by the IDF.
Evidence refuting her statements were passed on to the Ukranian authorities, who were simultaneously conducting their own investigation into the matter and determined she was lying. Ynetnews reports that the Ukrainian security services determined that the answers Zakusilo provided were entirely scripted by the show’s main editor.
A former spokesperson for the Israeli Foreign Ministry stated at the time that Zakusilo never served in a combat role and only held a junior administrative position.
The Israeli publication says that the Israeli Government Press Office has contacted Al Jazeera’s bureau chief in Israel to demand answers for running the apparently debunked story.