U.N. report: “convincing” data Hamas raped, tortured hostages | EUROtoday

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A crew of United Nations specialists tasked with gathering data on sexual violence linked to Hamas’s Oct. 7 assaults on Israel discovered “reasonable grounds to believe” that some victims had been sexually assaulted, together with rape and gang rape, based on a U.N. report launched Monday.

“In most of these incidents, victims first subjected to rape were then killed,” a press launch saying the report’s findings mentioned. “The mission team also found a pattern of victims, mostly women, found fully or partially naked, bound, and shot across multiple locations.”

The 23-page report mentioned the crew additionally discovered “clear and convincing information” that a number of the girls and kids taken again to Gaza that day by Hamas as hostages had been subjected to “rape and sexualized torture and sexualized cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.” There had been “reasonable grounds to believe,” it mentioned, “that this violence may be ongoing.”

Hamas has denied that its forces sexually abused any of the greater than 1,200 Israelis killed or 253 captured on that day. The difficulty has been among the many most risky of the Israel-Hamas conflict, sparking intensive media accounts, outrage and suspicion, however little conclusive data.

The launch of the report, which additionally mentioned allegations of “conflict-related sexual violence by the Israeli security forces and settlers” towards Palestinians within the West Bank, got here on a day of swirling costs and countercharges.

In a fiery handle to the U.N. General Assembly, Philippe Lazzarini, the director of UNRWA — the U.N. company for Palestinian refugees that has labored in Gaza and the West Bank for the previous 75 years — accused Israel of a “deliberate and concerted campaign to undermine [UNRWA] operations and ultimately end them” with misinformation, focused assaults on its infrastructure, and restrictions on its actions within the West Bank and Israel.

“The repeated calls by the government of Israel to eliminate the agency are not about neutrality,” he mentioned. “The campaign against UNRWA is intended to shift the long-standing political power interests for peace in the occupied Palestinian territory set by the [U.N.] General Assembly and the Security Council without consulting either body.”

If it succeeds, he mentioned, “the entire humanitarian response in Gaza will crumble.”

Lazzarini mentioned, in remarks that had been met with widespread applause within the large meeting corridor, that UNRWA’s capability to satisfy its U.N.-ordered mandate is already “seriously threatened” by the withdrawal of funding by 16 nations, amongst them the United States and Germany.

The funding cuts got here after Israel mentioned it had proof that 12 of UNRWA’s 13,000 workers in Gaza had been concerned within the Oct. 7 assaults. After Israeli authorities knowledgeable Lazzarini verbally of the costs on Jan. 18 he fired the accused due to the “gravity of the situation,” he mentioned, however “no further information has been provided to me.” Two of the lads accused are believed to have been killed. The costs and total UNRWA operations are being investigated by an inside U.N. physique and an impartial panel headed by French former overseas minister Catherine Colonna.

Since then, Israel has launched video from Oct. 7 displaying a person it recognized as an UNRWA social employee serving to to place the physique of a slain Israeli right into a automotive, ostensibly to be taken again inside Gaza. Although greater than 100 hostages had been launched throughout a negotiated week-long pause within the combating in November, and there are ongoing negotiations to launch the remainder, an unknown variety of these in Hamas captivity are believed to be useless.

Video is alleged to point out U.N. reduction employee taking physique of Israeli shot on Oct. 7

On Monday, Israel launched what it mentioned was a declassified recording of an intercepted phone name by an UNRWA instructor “bragging” in regards to the Oct. 7 assaults. The authorities additionally launched an extra three names of “terrorists employed by UNRWA” and mentioned that greater than 450 of the company’s workers are “military operatives in terror groups in Gaza.” Those claims couldn’t be instantly independently verified.

Israel has beforehand mentioned that UNRWA itself is a terrorist group.

In an earlier General Assembly session Monday, referred to as to debate the newest of three U.S. vetoes of Security Council resolutions demanding an instantaneous humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza, Robert Wood, the alternate U.S. consultant, mentioned that such a measure “would not achieve the goal of a sustainable peace and may in fact run counter to it.” Instead, he urged members to assist a U.S. draft decision backing negotiations for a short lived cease-fire that will enable elevated humanitarian help to Gaza and the discharge of hostages.

At the identical assembly, held earlier than the discharge of the sexual violence report, Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan referred to as out the council’s repeated failure to explicitly condemn the assaults by Hamas, even because it has extensively criticized Israeli navy actions in Gaza. “The U.N. claims to care about women,” he mentioned. “Yet as we speak right now, Israeli women are being raped and abused by Hamas terrorists. … Deafening silence. Sure, we have heard the empty words of U.N. officials calling for the release of the hostages. But have we seen any of them take action? Nothing.”

The U.N. report didn’t assign particular blame to Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad or what it mentioned had been “other Palestinian paramilitary organizations … [and] armed and unarmed elements” getting into Israel from Gaza in three “cumulative waves” on Oct. 7 and didn’t “gather information and/or draw conclusions” of duty.

“Such attribution,” it mentioned, “would require a fully-fledged investigative process,” which it referred to as for in its suggestions.

But Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Haiat mentioned Monday on social media that Israel “welcomes the explicit recognition” of a U.N. physique on “the commission of sexual crimes by Hamas.”

Pramila Patten, the U.N. particular consultant on sexual violence in battle, led the report crew of technical specialists — together with a forensic pathologist and specialists in moral therapy of survivors of sexual violence. The crew interviewed survivors and witnesses of the Oct. 7 assaults — though the report notes that they didn’t converse instantly with any of the survivors of the alleged sexual violence on that day.

The variety of survivors is unknown, however a “small number” of them are reportedly present process therapy and are experiencing extreme psychological misery and trauma, the report says. “Despite concerted efforts to encourage them to come forward, the mission team was not able to interview any of these survivors/victims,” based on the press launch.

The crew additionally reviewed over 5,000 images and about 50 hours of footage of the assaults, and visited a morgue, a navy base and the areas of a number of assaults.

The mission crew’s mandate was to assemble, analyze and confirm data on incidents of conflict-related sexual violence within the context of the assaults, although the report’s authors warning to not interpret the doc as “an investigation.”

The mission crew adopted the usual of proof of “reasonable grounds to believe,” based mostly on “its own assessment of the credibility and reliability of the witnesses it met” and by verifying the sources and methodologies of experiences produced by others, cross-referencing data and assessing whether or not “there was sufficient credible and reliable information … to make a finding in fact,” the report mentioned.

Among the challenges the crew confronted, the report mentioned, had been “the magnitude of the situation,” with many casualties unfold over a large space and a number of perpetrators; the excessive variety of burned our bodies; the lack of “potentially valuable evidence due to the interventions” of first responders and troopers with out coaching in gathering forensic proof, resulting in “erroneous interpretations” of what they discovered; and spiritual sensitivities that led to dressing, overlaying, repositioning or rapidly burying our bodies.

It additionally cited a “lack of access to first-hand testimonies” of surviving victims. Instead, the report mentioned, crew members met with “a small number” of Oct. 7 survivors and witnesses “who provided information on instances of sexual violence,” together with some whose recollections differed from earlier accounts. The report famous that “trust in … international organizations, such as the United Nations, are at an all-time low amongst many survivors and/or witnesses … making them reluctant to come forward.”

The report, in often graphic element, concluded that there have been “reasonable grounds” to imagine that sexual violence had occurred, together with rape and gang rape, in no less than three areas, together with the Nova music competition website, Road 232 and Kibbutz Reim. “Credible circumstantial information, which may be indicative of some forms of sexual violence, including genital mutilation, sexualized torture, or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, was also gathered,” it mentioned.

It decided that no less than two alleged cases of sexual violence reported within the media had been unfounded, together with the “graphically publicized case of a pregnant woman whose womb had reportedly been torn open.”

“The mission team was unable to establish the prevalence of sexual violence and concludes that the overall magnitude, scope, and specific attribution of these violations would require a fully-fledged investigation,” the report mentioned.