Statement comes after previous post on onslaught deleted

Eight weeks after Oct. 7 onslaught, UN Women condemns ‘brutal attacks by Hamas’

International body leads statement with ‘regret’ that fighting resumed; says is ‘alarmed by numerous accounts of gender-based atrocities, sexual violence’ during massacre

Israeli women protest outside the UN Headquarters in Jerusalem, November 27, 2023. (Flash90)
Israeli women protest outside the UN Headquarters in Jerusalem, November 27, 2023. (Flash90)

The women’s rights group UN Women issued a statement on Saturday condemning the Hamas terror group, 57 days after some 1,200 were killed and over 240 kidnapped in the brutal Hamas-led October 7 massacres in southern Israel, and amid weeks of criticism over its silence about evidence of sexual violence during the attack.

The UN Women statement led with “regret” that fighting had resumed between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, after a seven-day truce which saw 105 civilian hostages released from Gaza in exchange for 210 Palestinian prisoners.

“We unequivocally condemn the brutal attacks by Hamas on Israel on 7 October. We are alarmed by the numerous accounts of gender-based atrocities and sexual violence during those attacks,” the statement continued.

It then went on to laud the UN Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, for “opening its call for submissions on gender-based crimes since October 7.”

“For the sake of everyone in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel, and especially women and children, we call for a return to a path of peace, a respect for international humanitarian and international human rights law, and an end to the suffering of people in Gaza and in Israel, and those families still waiting for their loved ones to return,” the statement read.

The condemnation came over a week after the group posted and then deleted on Instagram a condemnation of “the brutal attacks by Hamas on October 7.”

On Wednesday, CNN pressed Sarah Hendriks, deputy director at UN Women, about the group’s silence on the issue.

Hendriks said that the agency was “deeply alarmed at the disturbing reports of gender-based and sexual violence on October 7,” adding that “we absolutely unequivocally condemn all forms of violence against women and girls.”

CNN anchor Bianna Golodryga asked Hendriks why the group has failed to “specifically call out Hamas” in the wake of “mounting evidence now over seven weeks” from Israeli investigators about such crimes on October 7. In her response, Hendriks again failed to name Hamas and said the agency always supports an “impartial, independent investigation.”

On her X account, Hendriks has not once mentioned Hamas nor ever called out the allegations of rape and sexual abuse carried out by the terror group on October 7.

The main UN Women account did not make any mention of such reports until November 25, when it stated that it was “alarmed by gender-based violence reports on 7 Oct & call for rigorous investigation.”

That followed weeks of calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and condemnation of Israel’s military campaign in the Strip, but no direct reference to the Hamas assault that prompted it.

Israeli officials have been furious at global human rights groups and women’s activist groups who have consistently dismissed evidence and testimony over sex abuse crimes carried out during the Hamas onslaught against southern Israel last month.

Women stand in a human chain calling for the release of Israelis held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza in Tel Aviv, November 12, 2023. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The UN Women statement came two days after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres broke his silence on allegations of sex crimes carried out by Hamas terrorists on October 7, saying such reports must be investigated.

“There are numerous accounts of sexual violence during the abhorrent acts of terror by Hamas on 7 October that must be vigorously investigated and prosecuted,” Guterres wrote on X, more than 50 days after the terror onslaught.

His tweet went further than similar comments he made a few hours earlier during a briefing to the UN Security Council, which failed to mention Hamas or terrorism and called the actions of October 7 simply “the attacks.”

Israeli Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan slammed Guterres for taking close to eight weeks to finally speak up about the allegations.

He said the Israeli mission plans to hold an event next week at the UN where “we will present findings proving that Hamas committed sexual crimes,” and he invited Guterres to attend and “unequivocally condemn Hamas for committing these shocking crimes.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivers remarks during a Security Council open debate on the maintenance of international peace and security at the UN headquarters in New York on November 20, 2023. (Yuki Iwamura/AFP)

Israeli police investigators are currently building several sexual assault cases against Hamas terrorists who participated in the massacres in southern Israel on October 7, with the goal of eventually trying the perpetrators for rape and other crimes.

An unnamed Israeli official told the Walla news site on Friday that Hamas doesn’t want to release the remaining female hostages because it doesn’t want them speaking publicly about what they endured on October 7 and during their time in captivity.

Fighting renewed on Friday after Hamas violated the temporary truce with Israel on Friday by failing to provide a list of hostages it intended to release by 7 a.m. as stipulated in the agreement that had been in place since last week, and also launched rockets toward Israeli communities prior to that time.

Jacob Magid and Carrie Keller-Lynn contributed to this report.

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