US lawmakers, officials attend Capitol Hill event on Hamas’s Oct. 7 sexual violence

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

Second gentleman Doug Emhoff, center, speaks during an event on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 14, 2024, to raise awareness of the sexual and gender-based violence Hamas perpetrated against women and children in Israel on and since October 7. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Second gentleman Doug Emhoff, center, speaks during an event on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 14, 2024, to raise awareness of the sexual and gender-based violence Hamas perpetrated against women and children in Israel on and since October 7. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Several US lawmakers and senior Biden administration officials attend an event on Capitol Hill aimed at raising awareness of the systemic sexual violence perpetrated by Hamas during its October 7 terror onslaught.

The first part of the event was a closed briefing for the US officials by a pair of Israel Police officers investigating the sexual violence allegations as well as an Ichilov Medical Center doctor who treated some of the victims.

The event was organized by the Israeli Embassy in Washington along with Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, who came out of the briefing visibly shaken by what she had heard.

“I can’t go into the specifics of the investigations and the details that were shared with us, but I have never seen more sadistic evil perpetrated against another human than in the photos and videos that we saw earlier this morning,” Wasserman-Schultz says during the open part of the event.

Second gentleman Doug Emhoff, center, hugs Shirin Herzog, left, as her husband, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Herzog, watches at right during an event on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024, to raise awareness of the sexual and gender-based violence Hamas perpetrated against women and children in Israel on and since October 7. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

“The evidence is abundant and beyond compelling. Through survivors coming forward, witnesses, video footage and independent analysis, we know that Hamas’ use of sexual violence including rape, mutilation, and brutality was not an anomaly. It was a premeditated part of its strategy to purposefully use sexual violence as a weapon against innocent civilians,” she adds.

Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff says: “The evidence is there…you cannot ignore the facts and the evidence when they’re right in your face. Do not ignore it. You cannot deny it.”

“We need to be able to clearly and unequivocally denounce this violence against women no matter what your thoughts or feelings are about any other issue that is happening with this conflict,” he adds.

Second gentleman Doug Emhoff, left, holds hands with Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt, right, during an event on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024, to raise awareness of the sexual and gender-based violence Hamas perpetrated against women and children in Israel on and since October 7. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Israeli Ambassador to the US Mike Herzog said, “This is about basic human values. This is about humanity. And when you understand that, you understand why the Israeli sense of security… was shattered on [October] 7.”

The event is also attended by US antisemitism envoy Deborah Lipstadt and the executives of several major Jewish organizations.

It is capped off by a symbolic, bipartisan resolution passed in the House condemning the sexual violence inflicted by Hamas on October 7.

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