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UN Missions Discover Evidence of Sexual Violence by Hamas

The UN missions announced on Monday, March 4, that they had obtained “undeniable evidence” of sexual violence perpetrated by Hamas against captives. The mission, which visited Israel, was investigating allegations of women being sexually abused and raped during the terrorist attacks on October 7.

Pramila Patten, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, informed the press, “We have discovered undeniable evidence that detainees have been victims of sexual violence, including rape, sexual torture, and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment.”

She further stated, “We also have credible reasons to suspect that such violence may still be happening against those captured.” A team of nine technical experts visited Israel from January 29 to February 14, meeting with various officials from relevant Israeli ministries, the National Forensic Science Center, and military bases. They also visited four locations where sexual violence was reported on October 7, including the Nova Music Festival site, where many young people were reportedly killed and kidnapped.

The experts examined over 5,000 photographs and about 50 hours of footage from the attacks, a significant portion of which came from GoPro cameras owned by Hamas members. However, Patten mentioned that they were unable to meet with any survivors of sexual violence, despite their attempts.

Patten acknowledged the full cooperation of the Israeli government and confirmed that the information provided by Israel was “genuine and unaltered.”

The mission’s objective was not to investigate but to “gather, analyze, and confirm allegations of conflict-related sexual violence” concerning the events of October 7 and beyond.

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The UN team was unable to confirm some reports of rape and sexual abuse, including a widely reported incident involving a pregnant woman in Kibbutz Beeri. They also found no clear pattern of genital mutilation on either female or male soldiers at the Nahal Oz military base, although forensic analysis revealed injuries to multiple body parts.

Israel immediately contested the report, criticizing the United Nations even before its official release. Foreign Minister Israel Katz accused the UN of attempting to “suppress” Patten’s report and criticized UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for not convening the UN Security Council to declare Hamas a globally recognized terrorist organization.

Earlier on Monday, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, also criticized Guterres and the United Nations. He warned that the United Nations would lose any remaining legitimacy if it continued to ignore the findings in the report.

In response, a spokesman for Guterres stated that the UN secretary-general fully supports Patten’s work and denied any attempts to suppress the report.

The UN team also visited Ramallah in the West Bank to gather information on allegations of conflict-related sexual violence against Palestinians by Israeli security forces and settlers since October 7.

Patten reported that those they spoke to expressed concerns about the cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of detained Palestinian men and women, including intrusive body searches, rape threats, and prolonged forced nudity. Concerns were also raised about excessive physical and sexual violence, including sexual harassment and threats of rape during house searches and at checkpoints.

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Patten concluded, “The true extent of sexual violence during the October 7 attacks and its consequences may take months or years to emerge and may never be fully known, as sexual violence remains a chronically underreported crime in every conflict-affected setting due to survivors facing trauma, stigma, and fear. However, in the case of Israel, many victims of sexual violence do not survive.”

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