U.N. to Study Reports of Sexual Violence in Israel During Oct. 7 Attack

A United Nations group has arrived in Israel to look at experiences of sexual violence throughout the Hamas-led assault on Oct. 7 whilst Hamas and a few critics of Israel proceed to reject proof that such assaults occurred.

Israeli officers have stated that Hamas terrorists brutalized ladies all through their incursion into southern Israel and have complained that U.N. leaders and others have been sluggish to condemn sexual assaults.

The U.N. go to comes after a number of news organizations reported allegations of sexual violence throughout the Oct. 7 assault. In a Dec. 28 article, The New York Times documented a sample of gender-based violence in the assault and recognized not less than seven places the place Israeli ladies and women appeared to have been sexually assaulted or mutilated.

The U.N. group “aims to give voice to survivors, witnesses, recently released hostages and those affected; to identify avenues for support, including justice and accountability; and to gather, analyze and verify information,” stated a statement issued Wednesday by the workplace of Pramila Patten, the U.N. secretary-general’s particular consultant on sexual violence in battle, who’s main the go to.

While the Israeli authorities has welcomed Ms. Patten’s group, which arrived Sunday evening, it has refused to cooperate with another U.N. body investigating Oct. 7 atrocities, accusing it of anti-Israel bias.

Hamas, which the United States and the European Union consider a terrorist group, denies that Palestinian fighters sexually assaulted ladies throughout the assault.

It has described the accusations as “wartime propaganda” meant to “justify the very real crimes of mass murder and ethnic cleansing that Israel is carrying out against our people,” referring to the Israeli navy marketing campaign that native officers say has killed greater than 26,000 folks in Gaza since Oct. 7.

Hamas stated in a press release issued by Basem Naim, a member of the group’s political bureau, that the Oct. 7 operation was “very short,” and its fighters had time just for their mission “to crush the enemy’s military sites.” But intensive video footage reveals uniformed Hamas gunmen killing unarmed civilians in a daylong assault in which Israeli officers say about 1,400 folks have been killed or taken hostage.

Hamas has additionally stated its fighters, as Muslims, are “honor-bound to respect and protect all women,” and demanded an apology from The Times.

The Times report has been challenged on social media by critics who query the reliability of witnesses cited in the article. Some additionally say it failed to show that Hamas deliberate and directed the sexual violence, or that any of the assailants have been members of the group, noting that different militants and abnormal residents of Gaza entered Israel that day too.

The Times cited 4 individuals who described seeing sexual assaults whereas hiding throughout the Hamas-led assault, two of whom have since come below intense scrutiny.

One, a 26-year-old accountant who requested to be recognized solely by her first identify, Sapir, has been offered as a key witness by Israeli police. At a press briefing on Nov. 14, officers confirmed a three-minute excerpt from a video interview in which she described seeing a girl raped, mutilated and killed.

Some critics have stated her feedback in the police video clip have been inconsistent with what she informed The Times.

The Times discovered Sapir and spoke to her a number of instances earlier than the publication of its article, together with for 2 hours outdoors a restaurant. In these interviews, she recounted an ordeal that started on the rave in southern Israel the place terrorists killed greater than 360 folks.

She was shot in the again throughout the assault, she stated, and whereas feeling faint at instances and hiding below the branches of a tree, she noticed teams of armed males, many dressed in navy fatigues, rape and kill not less than 5 ladies. She additionally informed The Times she noticed assailants carrying the heads of three ladies.

Israeli police have declined to launch extra of what Sapir informed them, saying that going into larger element may hinder their investigation. But the police let The Times view parts of one other video in which Sapir informed investigators a lot of what she informed The Times, describing a number of sexual assaults.

The police additionally stated they discovered Sapir’s bag the place she stated she had been hiding, and girls’s clothes close to the place she stated the rapes occurred. And three severed heads have been discovered farther away, close to the our bodies of assailants in navy fatigues, Israeli officers stated, with out offering extra element.

In a separate interview, Yura Karol, 22, who was hiding subsequent to Sapir, had informed The Times he barely lifted his head but additionally noticed a girl raped and killed whereas surrounded by armed males, some carrying navy fatigues. Reached once more final week, he repeated the account.

Asked why the Israeli police launched solely half of Sapir’s testimony, Mirit Ben Mayor, a police chief superintendent and spokeswoman, stated, “We needed to show the world, which unbelievably didn’t believe us about sexual violence, and on the other hand, we needed to protect the investigation.”

The different witness who has been scrutinized is Raz Cohen, a safety guide who has described seeing a rape at a special location to a number of information shops. Critics have questioned his credibility as a result of he didn’t say he witnessed such an assault in his very first interviews with reporters, on Oct. 9.

Mr. Cohen began speaking about witnessing rape in interviews the subsequent day. He spoke to The Times in November, and stated he noticed 5 males in civilian garments rape and kill a girl whereas he was hiding in a dried-up streambed.

Critics have identified that he went additional in different interviews than he did with The Times to describe the terrorists as civilians.

A good friend who was hiding with him, Shoam Gueta, additionally informed The Times he noticed a gaggle of males sexually assault and kill a girl. Reached once more final week, he repeated the account.

In his very first interviews with the media, Mr. Cohen described the phobia of seeing folks being massacred round him and hiding for his life. Asked this month why he had not talked about rape at first, Mr. Cohen cited the stress of his expertise, and stated in a textual content message that he had not realized then that he was one of the few surviving witnesses. He declined to be interviewed once more, saying he was working to recuperate from the trauma he suffered.

Kateryna Busol, a Ukrainian lawyer specializing in worldwide legislation, together with crimes in opposition to ladies, stated a slight variation in eyewitness testimony “does not necessarily invalidate the witness’s experience.”

“It’s natural after such a traumatic experience to have certain blind spots and to fluctuate in the way certain aspects of the event are remembered,” she stated.

The Times article additionally described visible proof and interviews with witnesses, troopers and volunteer medics who collectively stated they discovered greater than 30 our bodies of ladies and women with indicators of sexual violence or mutilation, together with at kibbutzim and navy bases struck by closely armed gunmen carrying fight fatigues.

The Israeli police have acknowledged that, throughout the shock and confusion of Oct. 7, they didn’t conduct autopsies or gather different forensic proof. Experts say it isn’t uncommon for such proof to be minimal in instances of wartime sexual violence.

The Times article described the case of Gal Abdush, a mom of two who was killed alongside along with her husband after fleeing the rave, and her household’s anguish over the uncertainty. Based on video of how her physique was discovered, Israeli police officers stated they believed she had been raped, and a few members of the Abdush household stated they feared the identical.

“It seems to me, and I really hope I’m wrong,” stated Zvika Alter, a brother-in-law, in early December, “that she was raped.”

Since the publication of the Times article, a couple of members of the family have denied or solid doubt on that risk, together with one other brother-in-law who stated he spoke to Ms. Abdush’s husband earlier than he was killed. Critics have additionally seized on an Instagram remark by Miral Alter, Zvika’s spouse and one of Ms. Abdush’s sisters, suggesting that The Times misled the household concerning the focus of the article.

Ms. Alter, whom The Times had not interviewed earlier than the article was printed, deleted the remark shortly after posting it. But critics circulated photographs of it to assert falsely that the household had renounced the article.

Last week, Ms. Alter informed the Times that she was upset her put up had been used to query whether or not Hamas sexually assaulted ladies and that when she made it, she had been “confused about what happened” and was making an attempt to “protect my sister.”

“Did she suffer? Did she die right away?” she stated. “I want to hope she didn’t suffer, but we will never know.”

In addition to the work of the U.N. group now in Israel, a number of investigations into the allegations of sexual violence are unfolding. The Israeli police have been accumulating data. So has a civil fee led by Israeli lecturers. And a separate U.N. commission has known as on the general public to submit data.

Israeli activists and their allies overseas have expressed anger over what they contemplate the U.N.’s sluggish response. “Me too, unless you’re a Jew!” protesters have shouted at demonstrations in Tel Aviv.

The U.N. group led by Ms. Patten plans to spend about two weeks in Israel and the occupied West Bank interviewing witnesses and analyzing medical and forensic data. Ms. Patten’s workplace stated she is going to share some preliminary findings after the mission ends in mid-February, with further data anticipated to be included in her workplace’s annual report on sexual violence in conflict.

Isabel Kershner contributed reporting from Jerusalem.

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button