UN Experts Indicate Strong Indications of Sexual Violence in October 7 Events

UN Experts Indicate Strong Indications of Sexual Violence
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses the Security Council via video amid Russia’s war. Andrew Kelly/Reuters

UN Experts Indicate Strong Indications of Sexual Violence

The United Nations representative focusing on sexual violence in conflict delivered a comprehensive report in New York on Monday (Mar. 04). The report suggested that there are substantial grounds to believe that Israeli women endured sexual violence during the tragic Oct. 7 attack in Israel. UN envoy Pramila Patten, along with a team of nine members, conducted a visit to Israel and the West Bank from Jan. 29 to Feb. 14, with their findings forming the basis of the report.

The 23-page report explicitly states that the mission was not intended to be investigative but points to compelling evidence indicating conflict-related sexual violence during the Oct. 7 attacks. These incidents reportedly took place in multiple locations across the Gaza periphery, involving distressing acts such as rape and gang rape in at least three locations.

Despite the acknowledgment of these severe allegations, the UN envoy noted the team’s inability to directly meet with any victims during their visit. The October 7 attacks, marked by a breach of Israel’s southern border by Hamas militants, resulted in a staggering toll of approximately 1,200 casualties. The incursion included various Palestinian militant groups like Hamas commandos, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Popular Resistance Committees, and other paramilitary organizations.

The report delves into specific incidents, notably at the Nova music festival and its surroundings, where multiple instances of sexual violence are believed to have occurred. Shockingly, victims were allegedly subjected to rape before being killed, with at least two incidents involving the rape of women’s corpses.

During the team’s visit to kibbutz Be’eri, the report highlights that two highly publicized allegations of sexual violence, including the brutal claim of a pregnant woman whose womb was reportedly torn open, were found to be unfounded due to new information or inconsistencies in gathered facts. Other disturbing allegations, such as objects intentionally inserted into female genital organs, couldn’t be verified due to limited and low-quality imagery.

The report concludes by emphasizing that the mission’s objective was not to establish the prevalence of conflict-related sexual violence during and after the Oct. 7 attacks, given the short timeframe of the visit. Despite the challenges and limitations faced, the findings raise significant concerns about the occurrence of sexual violence during this conflict, underscoring the need for further attention and thorough investigation into these grave allegations.

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