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UN envoy says it's likely Hamas committed sexual violence on Oct. 7

A U.N. report says it has "reasonable grounds" to believe Hamas committed rape and sexualized torture during the Oct. 7 attacks on Israel.
The site of a music festival near the border with the Gaza Strip in southern Israel, Oct. 12, 2023
Posted at 6:53 PM, Mar 04, 2024

In a report released Monday, the U.N. envoy who tracks sexual violence in conflict said there are "reasonable grounds" to believe Hamas committed rape, sexualized torture and other inhumane treatment of women when it attacked Israel on Oct. 7 of last year.

Pramila Patten and a team of investigators were on the ground in Israel and the West Bank from Jan. 29 to Feb. 14. The team "found clear and convincing information" that some of Hamas' hostages have been subject to the same treatment. The group finds "reasonable grounds to believe that such violence may be ongoing."

The U.N. team met with Israeli groups and interviewed survivors and witnesses of the Oct. 7 attacks, including health workers and hostages who were released.

The team reportedly made efforts to meet directly with victims of sexual violence, but none came forward.

Hamas has denied that its fighters committed sexual assaults.

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The team 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."

The team had "reasonable grounds to believe" multiple incidents of sexual violence took place at the Nova music festival, one site of Hamas' initial attack on Israel.

On the road away from the festival, the team found credible information of other rapes.

According to Patten's report, "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 report also found that certain allegations of sexual violence that took place at Kibbutz Be’eri were unfounded, based on conflicting factual information or new evidence. This included the widely reported allegation that a pregnant woman and her fetus had been killed.