Gal Gadot says the ‘world has failed the women of October 7’

The Israeli star asked the UN and the global human rights community to ‘join in the demand that Hamas release every single woman hostage immediately’


Israeli actress Gal Gadot attends Tiffany & Co reopening of NYC Flagship store, The Landmark in New York City on April 27, 2023. (Photo by KENA BETANCUR / AFP) (Photo by KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

Israeli film star Gal Gadot has said that the world had “failed the women of October 7” amid a global campaign to highlight the silence of the UN and other women’s rights bodies over the brutal sexual violence carried out by Hamas terrorists.

The Wonder Woman 1984 star said in an Instagram post on Sunday, “Within hours of the October 7 attack, the first blood-chilling video emerged of Shani Louk being paraded naked and defiled by her proud assailants.

“Yet two months later women are still hostage to these rapists and the world has failed to call this situation what it is: an urgent emergency that demands a decisive response.

“I am beseeching all those who have done so much for women’s rights globally — from the UN to the human rights community - to please join in the demand that Hamas release every single woman hostage immediately — not after the next round of international mediation.”

It came as the Chief Rabbi hash hit out at “the stubborn reluctance of international women’s rights organisations to condemn the systematic rape and sexual mutilation of women by Hamas in Israel”, calling it “shameful and inexcusable”.

Also posting on Instagram, Sir Ephraim Mirvis wrote that it “betrays a partisan agenda which wholly undermines the international progress that has been made to give women a voice as victims of sexual violence”.

“There can be no hierarchy of victims in which Israeli women find themselves relegated to triviality.”

At rally on in London on Sunday that featured speakers including actress Maureen Lipman; women’s rights activist Nimco Ali; and the deputy mayor of Jerusalem, Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, protesters clad in black put orange tape over their mouths and held placards with the words: “UN Women your silence is loud”

According to the UN website, UN Women is a department delivering “programmes, policies and standards that uphold women’s human rights and ensure that every woman and girl lives up to her full potential”.

The demonstration on Whitehall came after a conspicuous lack of outrage for many weeks from the UN organisation in the face of mounting evidence of rape and torture from witnesses, morgue workers and even the perpetrators themselves, some of whom videoed their crimes.

On November 25, UN Women called for “a rigorous investigation” into “reports of gender-based violence”, which “alarmed” them.

Coming under increasing pressure from campaigners, on December 2, the organisation put out a further statement, saying that they “unequivocally condemn the brutal attacks by Hamas on Israel on 7 October”.

But one of the organisers, Hilla Lousky Vigder, told rally-goers: “For the moment, this statement is nothing but words. After 53 days of complete silence, I’m not even sure if there is a pure intention behind those words…. So, I’ve lost my faith. I lost my faith in this system called UN Women and any Israeli and Jewish women probably feel the same as I do.”

Vigder added: “All murdered, raped, abused, humiliated, mutilated women and all the ones who are still in captivity as we stand here today, and all the survivors, deserve much better than words. We will not tolerate this, and we won’t be silenced. We won’t stop. This act of UN Women will never be forgiven or forgotten.”

To shouts of “Shame on you!”, other speakers agreed that the global body had said too little, too late.

Lipman told over 1,500 rally-goers: “The silence from our sisterhood is just deafening, especially from the UN. They are utterly silent over gang rapes, pelvises being broken. Why? Because Jewish women don’t count.”

Ali, a Somali Muslim, who is at the forefront of a campaign to end FGM, told the crowd: “Women don’t lie about rape.”

Having worked in the field of international development for 20 years, she said it was “incredibly painful to watch an organisation that is meant to defend women, an organisation, which I was hoping would defend all women, was silent about the rape and abuse of Jewish women…My message to the UN is that they need to apologise for their silence.”

Hassan-Nahoum, who had flown in from Israel, called for UN Women to be defunded. The organisation received over $150m funding from 87 government and private partners in 2022.

She said: “We have spent the last 10 years fighting to be believed and all that work has gone down the drain because Jewish women can’t be believed. UN Women have…betrayed all women. We need to get them defunded until they understand that rape is rape.”

On Monday, the UN held a conference on the gender-based violence on October 7.

Israel’s ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan described the rape and mutilation as “weapons of war”. He said: “To parade their naked bodies in the street while onlookers cheered, this was premediated. This was planned. This was instructed. The atrocities committed by Hamas were more barbaric than Isis.”

He said that “UN women ignored all of the proof and were blind to all of the evidence, including video footage” which was sent to them.

Despite the UN announcing that an investigation would now be taking place into the sexual crimes committed of October 7, Erdan said that “the investigation which must truly be carried out is an investigation into the UN’s heinous crimes against Israeli women”.

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