Israel submits report to UN on Hamas’s mass weaponization of rape
Israel at war'Systematic, targeted sexual abuse'

Israel submits report to UN on Hamas’s mass weaponization of rape

Written by umbrella organization of rape crisis centers, grim document reviews Palestinian terror group’s strategic use of sexual violence, as deniers abound

A Supernova party survivor at the Secret Forest retreat center in Cyprus, in an undated photo. Her bracelet is the entrance token from the party, on the date of the massacre. In the October 7, 2023 onslaught, 3,000 Hamas-led terrorists burst through the Gaza border and murdered 1,200 people in southern Israel, most of them civilians, some 360 of them at the Supernova outdoor music festival. (Courtesy via The Times of Israel)
A Supernova party survivor at the Secret Forest retreat center in Cyprus, in an undated photo. Her bracelet is the entrance token from the party, on the date of the massacre. In the October 7, 2023 onslaught, 3,000 Hamas-led terrorists burst through the Gaza border and murdered 1,200 people in southern Israel, most of them civilians, some 360 of them at the Supernova outdoor music festival. (Courtesy via The Times of Israel)

The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel on Wednesday submitted to the United Nations a report detailing the sadistic and systematic nature of the sexual violence employed by Hamas terrorists during the terror group’s brutal Oct. 7 onslaught on southern Israel, as well as evidence of such crimes being perpetrated on an ongoing basis against hostages still held in Gaza.

The association said the chilling 35-page report, written by Dr. Carmit Klar Chalamish, head of the organization’s research department, and Noa Berger, its director of content, “is the first official research since Oct. 7, consolidating evidence and providing conclusions” from “numerous confidential and public pieces of information.”

It identifies four main arenas where Hamas used rape as a weapon of war: the Supernova music festival near Re’im; Gaza border communities; military bases infiltrated by Hamas; and abuse of hostages inside the Strip.

According to a statement from the association, which was founded in 1990 as an umbrella organization of Israel’s nine rape crisis centers, “the report clearly demonstrates that this is not a ‘malfunction’ or isolated incident, but a clear operational strategy involving systematic, targeted sexual abuse,” contrary to the claims of some pro-Palestinian activists who have denied the extent of Hamas’s weaponization of rape.

The report collects numerous testimonies from eyewitnesses, including first responders at hard-hit Gaza border communities and survivors of the massacre at the Supernova festival, nearly all of them identified by their full names.

However, the statement continued, “the report does not provide quantitative information due to the nature of the events, most of which resulted in the victims’ deaths, making their full extent unknown and possibly unknowable.”

Retrieval of evidence was made still more difficult by the mass-casualty nature of the Oct. 7 atrocities, which led Israeli authorities to decide against time-consuming crime scene investigation protocols to document rape cases in the immediate aftermath of the shock assault. This later impeded forensic determination of sexual assault in some cases.

Notwithstanding, the report outlines several sadistic tactics that were recurring, among them genital mutilation and penetration of victims’ bodies with weapons.

Thus, Nachman Dickstein, a volunteer for body retrieval service ZAKA, was cited describing a pair of women bound to a bed by their arms and legs, one of whom had undergone sexual assault and had had a knife shoved in her vagina.

The report also noted multiple instances of Hamas terrorists engaging in gang rape, which, the authors said, accounts for about 90% of wartime rapes. “Cooperation in the acts strengthens the perpetrators’ sense of togetherness and solidarity,” according to the report.

One survivor from the festival, identified in the report as Sapir, said in a testimony to police that she witnessed five separate rapes. From her hiding place near Route 232, not far from the festival grounds, Sapir said she saw a large group of Hamas terrorists swapping firearms and injured women. In a separate instance, Sapir said she saw one terrorist rape a woman, as another terrorist cut her and mutilated her body.

Chaim Otmazgin, commander of ZAKA’s special units and an officer in the IDF Home Front Command’s search and rescue unit, told the report’s authors he had found two victims in one home, a mother and daughter, with the latter’s pants and underwear removed.

Rapes were frequently perpetrated in front of the victim’s friends and family, to compound their humiliation and fear, the report’s authors said. Itzik Itah, a volunteer for ZAKA, was cited in the report saying that in one house, a heterosexual couple was found bound together, with the woman’s body exhibiting “clear signs of rape.”

Men were not spared from sexual assault and several were found with mutilated genitalia.

The report also contained a section on sexual violence in military installations infiltrated by Hamas on Oct. 7. Most of the testimonies in this section were already in the public domain, such as that of Shari Mendes, a volunteer undertaker at the Shura IDF Rabbinate base, who said she saw four bodies of female soldiers that showed signs of sexual violence, including massive bleeding in their pelvic regions.

The section ends with the note that “the Association of Rape Crisis Centers received additional information on sexual assault against female soldiers which has not been made public.”

The next section collects testimonies of released hostages who described sexual violence aimed at others still in captivity. Chen and Agam Goldstein-Almog, a mother and daughter freed 51 days after being abducted, described meeting at least three female hostages who had been sexually assaulted. Aviva Siegel, who was also released after 51 days, also recounted encounters with hostages who had undergone sexual assault, saying that Hamas had made “marionettes” out of both women and men held captive in Gaza.

“Silence is no longer an option. We expect international organizations to take a clear stance; we cannot stand on the sidelines,” said the association’s CEO, Orit Sulitzeanu, in a statement announcing the report’s submission to UN officials. “Silence will be remembered as a historical stain on those who chose to remain silent and deny the sexual crimes committed by Hamas.”

The remark was a thinly veiled jab at international groups of women that ignored evidence of Hamas’ weaponization of sexual violence.

Notoriously, it took about eight weeks for UN Women, a women’s rights group under the tutelage of the UN, to post, and shortly thereafter delete, a condemnation of the Oct. 7 onslaught itself.

Another week would go by before the agency registered the existence of “disturbing reports of gender-based and sexual violence on Oct. 7.”

The delayed response sparked outrage among Jewish and Israeli feminist groups, rallying to the hashtag “#MeToo_UNless_UR_A_Jew” and charging the UN body’s silence was motivated by antisemitism.

The campaign gained traction by December, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and United States President Joe Biden both publicly castigating international women’s groups for ignoring mounting evidence that Hamas had used rape as a weapon of war. Later that month, the New York Times ran a damning report on the extent of sexual violence during the Oct. 7 attacks.

Some pro-Palestinian voices have attempted to downplay the extent of Hamas’s sexual violence. In a December interview to CNN, Rep. Pramila Jayapal, chair of the U.S, Congress’ Progressive Caucus, repeatedly evaded anchor Dana Bash’s questions about the Palestinian terror group’s weaponization of rape, saying that “I think it happens in war situations” but that “we have to be balanced about bringing in the outrages against Palestinians.”

Other commentators have alleged Israel manufactured the mass sexual violence allegations as a pretext for its war in the Gaza Strip.

American-Jewish anti-Zionist author Max Blumenthal claimed to disprove the New York Times report on Hamas’ sexual violence in an episode of the popular podcast “Bad Faith,” hosted by social media personality Briahna Joy Gray, during which Blumenthal claimed that the “mass rape propaganda campaign began [in December]… obviously because it had a political utility.”

Gray, who served as national press secretary for the 2020 presidential campaign of progressive U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, has also utilized her prolific presence on X (formerly Twitter) to deny the atrocities of Oct. 7 and downplay the accounts of survivors who witnessed gender-based violence.

A self-styled progressive, Gray has employed the claim that some rape victims’ reluctance to come forward indicates they were not attacked, while failing to address the fact that the majority of the victims were killed on the day of the attack, as indicated in the association’s report.

War broke out Oct. 7, when thousands of Hamas-led terrorists stormed southern Israel to kill nearly 1,200 people, mainly civilians, and take 253 hostages of all ages.

Vowing to end the Palestinian terror group’s rule in Gaza, Israel launched an unprecedented airstrike and ground campaign in the Gaza Strip, which has seen about half the coastal enclave’s residences destroyed, displacing over a million people, many of whom face severe risk of starvation.

According to the Strip’s Hamas-controlled health ministry, over 29,000 Palestinians have been killed in the hostilities. The figure, which cannot be independently verified, does not distinguish between civilians and combatants, of whom Hamas says it has lost some 6,000, while the IDF says it has killed about twice that many. PJC

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