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U.N. Experts Weigh In on Sexual Violence on Oct. 7 & Inside Israeli Jails

HeadlineMar 05, 2024

A team of United Nations experts say they have found “reasonable grounds” to believe that sexual violence, including rape, occurred on October 7 during the Hamas attack on Israel. The U.N. special envoy for sexual violence Pramila Patten spoke at the United Nations on Monday.

Pramila Patten: “We also found that there are reasonable grounds to believe that conflict-related sexual violence, including rape and gang rape, occurred during the 7th of October attacks in at least three locations, namely the Nova music festival site and its surroundings, Road 232, and Kibbutz Re’im. And in most of these incidents, victims were first subjected to rape and then killed. And at least two incidents relate to the rape of women’s corpses.”

The U.N. expert Pramila Patten went on to say that reports of rapes occurring at a fourth location, Kibbutz Be’eri, were unfounded. She said her team had also found “clear and convincing information” that some hostages held in Gaza had also suffered sexual violence. The U.N. experts did not conduct their own investigation but instead wrote the report based in large part from conversations with Israeli institutions including Zaka, an Israeli search-and-rescue organization that has been accused of spreading false stories about atrocities on October 7. The U.N. team said it did not meet with any survivors of the sexual violence from October 7. Patten also said her team received reports about imprisoned Palestinians facing sexual violence while in Israeli detention.

Pramila Patten: “We nevertheless received, whilst there, from several interlocutors, information about cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of Palestinians, men and women in detention, also under the administrative detention, including sexual violence in the forms of invasive body searches, threats of rape, and prolonged forced nudity.”

Two weeks ago, a group of U.N. experts expressed alarm over the abuse of Palestinian women and girls held by Israel. In a statement, the experts said, “We are particularly distressed by reports that Palestinian women and girls in detention have also been subjected to multiple forms of sexual assault, such as being stripped naked and searched by male Israeli army officers. At least two female Palestinian detainees were reportedly raped while others were reportedly threatened with rape and sexual violence.” The U.N. experts said that Israeli troops took photos of female Palestinian detainees in degrading circumstances and posted them online.

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