UN experts demand accountability for sexual violence during Hamas assault

Tel Aviv, Jan 9 (IANS): Two UN-appointed independent experts have demanded full accountability for the multitude of crimes, including sexual violence, committed against Israeli civilians during the Hamas attack on October 7, 2023.

In December last year, the Israeli police launched a probe into cases of sexual violence after officers collected more than 1,000 statements and over 60,000 video clips related to the attacks of sexual violence that included accounts from people who reported seeing women raped and brutalised.

According to the experts Alice Jill Edwards and Morris Tidball-Binz, the alleged crimes include grave violations of international law, including killings, hostage-taking and sexual torture.

“As armed Palestinian groups rampaged through communities in Israel bordering the Gaza Strip, thousands of people were subjected to targeted and brutal attacks, the vast majority of whom were civilians,” the experts said in a statement published by the UN on Monday.

“The growing body of evidence about reported sexual violence is particularly harrowing.”

The UN experts said individuals were allegedly burnt alive in their homes or bomb shelters, while bodies were found decapitated or mutilated or both.

Many bodies had signs of trauma consistent with executions and several others had injuries consistent with beatings at or near the time of death.

Allegations of sexual torture include rapes and gang rapes, sexual assaults, mutilations and gunshots to genital areas, the statement said.

Female bodies were found with their clothing pulled up to their waists, with underpants removed or torn or stained with blood.

“These acts constitute gross violations of international law, amounting to war crimes which, given the number of victims and the extensive premeditation and planning of the attacks, may also qualify as crimes against humanity,” the experts were quoted as saying in the statement.

“There are no circumstances that justify their perpetration. Acknowledging and documenting the harm done, and the pursuit of justice are vital steps towards peace.

“Each and every victim deserves to be recognised, regardless of their ethnicity, religion or sex, and our role is to be their voice,” they added.

The experts also expressed expressing deep concern for the remaining hostages in Gaza and called for their immediate and unconditional release.

“We are deeply conscious of the active conflict in Gaza and Israel and the severe humanitarian crisis. We urge all parties to agree a ceasefire, abide by international law, and investigate any crime alleged during the armed conflict."




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Title: UN experts demand accountability for sexual violence during Hamas assault

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