UN report accepts Hamas attack included rape and abuse of corpses

The report also found that hostages are being sexually abused


Israeli soldiers remove bodies of of Israeli civilians in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, October 10, 2023. (Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

The UN envoy focusing on sexual violence in conflict found evidence that Hamas’s October 7 terror attack on Israel involved rape and sexual violence including against dead women.

A report by the UN representative Pramila Patten, released on Monday, detailed two incidents from witnesses involving the rape of women's corpses.

Patten said there was “clear and convincing” information to show conflict-related sexual violence was carried out by Hamas terrorists including acts of rape and gang rape.

The report confirmed attacks had taken place at least three locations across southern Israel.

Patten said her team “found clear and convincing information” that some women and children were subjected to conflict-related sexual violence while held hostage.

She said the acts women and children were subjected to included rape and “sexualised torture” and there were “reasonable grounds to believe that such violence may be ongoing.”

The UN report was based on first-hand testimony gathered from released hostages and conducted as part of a trip to Israel and the West Bank from January 29 to February 14, carried out by a nine-member technical team.

Members of the investigating team held 33 meetings with Israeli institutions and conducted interviews with 34 people including survivors and witnesses of October 7.

Investigators spoke to released hostages, health providers and others as part of their mission.

Patten said: “There are reasonable grounds to believe that conflict-related sexual violence occurred during the 7 October attacks in multiple locations across Gaza periphery, including rape and gang rape, in at least three locations.”

She said her team of investigators found “that several fully naked or partially naked bodies from the waist down were recovered — mostly women — with hands tied and shot multiple times, often in the head.”

She said the pattern of undressing and restraining victims “may be indicative of some forms of sexual violence.”

Patten said there were “reasonable grounds” to believe the Nova music festival site was somewhere “that multiple incidents of sexual violence took place with victims being subjected to rape and/or gang rape and then killed or killed while being raped.”

She said: “There are further accounts of individuals who witnessed at least two incidents of rape of corpses of women.

“Other credible sources at the Nova music festival site described seeing multiple murdered individuals, mostly women, whose bodies were found naked from the waist down, some totally naked,some shot in the head, some tied to trees or poles with their hands bound.”

The report detailed “credible information” based on witness accounts that describe an incident of the rape of two women by armed terrorist on Road 232.

Road 232 was the the road out of the Nova festival which many people fled on.

Patten said: “Along this road, several bodies were found with genital injuries, along with injuries to other body parts.

“Discernible patterns of genital mutilation could not be verified at this time but warrant future investigation.”

She said: “The mission team also found a pattern of bound naked or partially naked bodies from the waist down, in some cases tied to structures including trees and poles, along Road 232.”

The UN investigation said it also verified the rape of a woman outside a bomb shelter.

Speaking at a press conference to launch the report Patten said the team's main objective was not to investigate allegations of sexual violence but to gather, analyse and verify information for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres' annual report on sexual violence in conflict and for the UN Security Council.

She recommended that Israel allow the UN human rights chief access “to carry out full-fledged investigations into the alleged violations.”

Despite appealing to first hand victims to come forward Patten said the team was not able to meet with any victims of sexual violence.

She said “a small number of those who are undergoing treatment are reportedly experiencing severe mental distress and trauma.”

The report cast doubt on some allegations of violence that were widely circulated in the aftermath of the October 7 attacks.

Patten said the allegation that a pregnant woman's womb was reportedly ripped open before being killed with her fetus stabbed inside her, were “unfounded.”

When investigating events which took place at Kibbutz Be'eri, Patten said, her team: “was able to determine that at least two allegations of sexual violence widely repeated in the media, were unfounded due to either new superseding information or inconsistency in the facts gathered.”

She suggested further investigation was needed of allegations said to have taken place at Kibbutz Be'eri, such as reports about bodies found naked and in one case gagged.

In relation to the investigation carried out at Kibbutz Kfar Aza, Patten said, verification of sexual violence was not possible.

She said: “Available circumstantial information — notably the recurring pattern of female victims found undressed, bound, and shot — indicates that sexual violence, including potential sexualised torture, or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, may have occurred.'

Patten suggested more time was needed to understand “the true prevalence of sexual violence during the October 7 attacks.”

She said it: “may take months or years to emerge and may never be fully known.”

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