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Mar 5, 2024, 7:55am EST
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UN envoy finds evidence of sexual violence during Oct. 7 attack

Insights from Haaretz, Reuters, The Intercept, and Semafor

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A man walks past posters with photos of hostages kidnapped in the deadly October 7 attack on Israel by the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas from Gaza, in Tel Aviv, Israel March 5, 2024. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins
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A United Nations envoy said there are “reasonable grounds to believe” that Hamas militants raped women during the Oct. 7 attack on Israel that left around 1,200 people dead and some 240 taken hostage.

Pramila Patten, the U.N.’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, also said her team found “clear and convincing information that sexual violence, including rape, sexualized torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment has been committed against hostages” held in Gaza.

Israel and several media organizations have reported allegations of sexual violence by Hamas, allegations the militant group has denied.

Patten’s team also visited Ramallah, a Palestinian city in the occupied West Bank, and heard concerns about the degrading treatment of Palestinians detained by Israel, including sexual violence.

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Israeli sexual violence report found widespread abuse

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Source:  
Haaretz

Last month, a wide-ranging report by Israel’s Association of Rape Crisis Centers found evidence of systematic sexual assaults on Oct. 7, and against the hostages subsequently held in Gaza. “Many victims’ bodies were found mutilated and bound, with sexual organs brutally attacked, and in some cases, weapons were inserted into them,” the report said. Its authors said that the aim of such attacks during wartime was to sow fear and humiliate victims, Haaretz reported. The Israeli report was submitted to Patten’s team to aid their investigation.

Israel welcomes UN report, Hamas rejects findings

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Sources:  
Reuters, The Times of Israel

Israel on Monday said it welcomed the U.N. report, calling it “definitive recognition that Hamas committed sexual crimes.” A foreign ministry spokesman said the U.N. Security Council show now designate Hamas as a terrorist organization and impose international sanctions on it. Israel had earlier recalled its envoy to the U.N., accusing the organization of trying to “keep quiet” about Patten’s report even as it was published. “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,” a spokesman for the U.N. chief said. On Tuesday Hamas rejected the U.N.’s report, calling the findings “false claims.”

Reports on Oct. 7 violence have faced scrutiny

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Sources:  
The Intercept, Semafor

Media reporting on sexual violence during Hamas’ attack on Israel has been heavily scrutinized, with one consequential exposé by The New York Times widely criticized. The Times has defended its reporting, but questions have circled about the veracity of some claims made in the article, including those raised by The Intercept, which on Monday published an article alleging that two victims of the attack were not subjected to sexual violence. Much of the Times’ missteps can be attributed to its reliance on amateur reporters on the ground in Israel, Semafor’s Ben Smith wrote. “The Times turned crucial elements of its reporting on one of the most difficult and sensitive stories it has ever published to amateurs, one of whose social media posts would make reasonable people question her ability to be fair,” he wrote. “That sounds insane when you say it out loud. Why would you do that?”

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