Thursday , April 25 2024

Hamas sexual crimes “systematically and intentionally”


JERUSALEM: The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel says it has gathered evidence Hamas gunmen “systematically and intentionally” committed sexual crimes during the 7 October attacks.

A report by the umbrella organization describes “identical patterns” of sexual violence at multiple locations.

These allegedly included violent rapes of women conducted “collectively” or “in front of an audience”.

Hamas has denied its gunmen sexually assaulted women during the attacks.

On 7 October, hundreds from the Palestinian armed group infiltrated southern Israel, where they killed about 1,200 people and took 253 others hostage.

Israel responded by launching a military campaign in Gaza, during which 29,300 people have been killed, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

Reports of sexual violence carried out by Hamas – which is proscribed as a terrorist organization by Israel, the UK and others began to emerge soon after 7 October and have accumulated steadily ever since.

A senior Israeli police officer told British MPs last month there was “clear evidence” – collected from forensic investigations as well as from hundreds of statements by witnesses and first responders that sexual crimes had been committed on a scale large enough to define it as a crime against humanity.

The media has also seen and heard evidence of rape, sexual violence and mutilation of women.

The report by the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel (ACCRI) brings together much of what has been reported, as well as other information that it says it has received directly from professionals and confidential calls.

It found that the 7 October attacks included “brutal acts of violent rape, often involving threats with weapons, specifically directed towards injured women”.

“Many rape incidents occurred collectively, with collaboration among the perpetrating terrorists,” the report says. “In some cases, rape was conducted in front of an audience, such as partners, family, or friends, to increase the pain and humiliation for all present.”

“Some Hamas members pursued victims who escaped the massacre, dragging them by their hair with screams. The majority of victims were subsequently killed during or after the sexual assault.”

It also cites various sources as indicating that many victims’ bodies were “found mutilated and bound, with sexual organs brutally attacked, and in some cases, weapons were inserted into them”.

The report concludes that there is “a clear picture of identical patterns of action repeated in each of the attack zones” – the Nova festival, homes in kibbutzim and villages near the Gaza border, and Israeli military bases. (Int’l Monitoring Desk)

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