Foreign Minister Eli Cohen on Saturday panned the United Nations’ rights body UN Women after it took 57 days to condemn the devastating October 7 Hamas assault on Israel and the sexual violence employed by the terrorists during the attack.
He also called on its executive director Sima Bahous, a Jordanian national, to quit.
“The behavior of UN Women since the massacre on October 7 has been shameful,” Cohen wrote.
“Their statement is tepid and late, coming after nearly two months of silence and turning a blind eye to war crimes, crimes against humanity, and sexual crimes committed by the Hamas terror group,” he said.
UN Women issued a statement earlier in the day condemning the Hamas terror group, nearly two months after the terror group slaughtered some 1,200 Israelis — mostly civilians — and kidnapped over 240. The organization had faced weeks of criticism over its silence over 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 that 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 went on to laud an ongoing UN commission of inquiry into the Israel-Palestinian conflict for “opening its call for submissions on gender-based crimes since October 7.”
Sima Bahous, Sarah E. Hendriks, Moez Dorald needs to resign. At once. Shame on you.
While women was killed and raped they postet about lesbians having to accept men. Two months later, they post a terse tweet on October 7th and call it gender-based violence#DefundTheUN https://t.co/m7C5zT23nM pic.twitter.com/ScxqFJP9xM
— Maxima (@maxima_8) December 2, 2023
Cohen slammed this decision too, saying that body was “made up of notorious antisemites” and that an investigation into the crimes should be carried out by a neutral body, not “Israel-haters and antisemites.”
UN Women’s 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.”
We reiterate that all women, Israeli women, Palestinian women, as all others, are entitled to a life lived in safety and free from violence.
— UN Women (@UN_Women) December 2, 2023
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.”
“Is there a reason [@UN_Women] can’t specifically call out Hamas & the mounting evidence… Israeli investigators have collected… [of] the atrocities they committed on Oct 7?” @biannagolodryga spoke w/ @UN_Women’s @sarah_hendriks about the response to Oct 7. Watch their exchange. pic.twitter.com/azKaScBNgy
— Christiane Amanpour (@amanpour) November 29, 2023
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[s] 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 in southern Israel last month.
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.”
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 by 7 a.m. a list of hostages it intended to release that day as stipulated in the agreement that had been in place since the previous Friday, and also fired rockets at Israeli communities prior to that time.
Jacob Magid and Carrie Keller-Lynn contributed to this report.