UN: 'Convincing information' sexual violence committed against hostages in Gaza

UN: 'Convincing information' sexual violence committed against hostages in Gaza
UN: 'Convincing information' sexual violence committed against hostages in Gaza

We show you our most important and recent visitors news details UN: 'Convincing information' sexual violence committed against hostages in Gaza in the following article

Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - NEW YORK — A UN team saids there is "convincing information" that hostages held in Gaza have been subjected to sexual violence including rape and sexualized torture.

There were grounds to suspect the abuse was still ongoing, the UN said.

The UN team also found "reasonable grounds to believe" sexual violence, including gang rape, took place when Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7.

Israel's Foreign Ministry said it welcomed the "definitive recognition that Hamas committed sexual crimes".

The UN Security Council should now designate Hamas as a terrorist organization and impose international sanctions on it, spokesman Lior Haiat said.

Hamas has denied its gunmen sexually assaulted women during the attacks.

In the report, the UN said it had "found clear and convincing information that sexual violence, including rape, sexualized torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment has been committed against hostages".

It also said it "has reasonable grounds to believe that such violence may be ongoing against those still held in captivity".

Hamas gunmen infiltrated southern Israel on Oct. 7 — killing about 1,200 people and taking 253 others hostage.

The UN report said "the mission team found that there are reasonable grounds to believe that conflict-related sexual violence occurred in multiple locations during the Oct. 7 attacks".

These happened in at least three locations — the Nova music festival site and its surroundings, Road 232, and Kibbutz Re'im, it added.

Reports of sexual violence carried out by Hamas — which is proscribed as a terrorist organization by Israel, the UK and others — began to emerge soon after Oct. 7 and have accumulated steadily ever since.

The BBC has also seen and heard evidence of rape, sexual violence and mutilation of women.

Israel responded to the Oct. 7 attack by launching a military campaign in Gaza, during which 30,500 people have been killed, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry.

The UN team visited Israel between Jan. 29 and Feb. 14.

The mission, led by Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict Pramila Patten along with nine experts, was not investigative in nature, but designed to gather and verify allegations, the UN said.

It added that 33 meetings were held with Israeli representatives, and more than 5,000 photographic images were examined as well as 50 hours of video footage.

The report said that "despite concerted efforts to encourage" victims to come forward, the team was unable to interview any of them.

Some allegations of rape and sexual violence were "unfounded", the report explained, including the graphically publicized case of a pregnant woman whose womb was reportedly torn open and her fetus stabbed. Other reports could not be verified due to limited imagery, the UN said.

It also said it had not been able to establish a discernible pattern of genital mutilation.

The UN report also said there had been allegations of sexual violence against Palestinians in Israeli custody, including "unwanted touching of intimate areas" and "prolonged forced nudity" in detention settings, during house raids and at checkpoints after Oct. 7.

The report said that while no instances of rape against Palestinians were reported, conservative cultural norms could have impeded reporting of sexual assault.

Israel's Foreign Ministry rejected this part of the report.

"That is a derisive and deliberate Palestinian maneuver aimed at creating an intolerable equivalence between the horrific crimes that were committed, and continue to be committed, by Hamas and malicious and baseless claims made against Israel and Israelis," Haiat said.

Israel has rejected similar allegations made previously by a panel of independent UN experts as "despicable and unfounded".

Haiat also said Israel opposed a recommendation made in the report that the country cooperate with the UN's international Commission of Inquiry, which is trying to conduct an investigation into potential war crimes on all sides.

He accused the inquiry of being hostile to Israel.

Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz on Monday recalled the country's ambassador to the UN for "consultations", accusing the UN of an "attempt to silence the grave UN report on the mass rapes".

He criticized UN Secretary General António Guterres for not convening the Security Council to discuss the findings and in order to declare Hamas a terrorist organization.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that Guterres "has fully supported" Patten's work in her visit to Israel.

"In no way, shape or form did the secretary-general do anything to keep the report 'quiet'. In fact, the report is being presented publicly today," Mr Dujarric said. — BBC

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