UN special envoy on sexual violence to visit Israel for probe into Hamas atrocities

Pramila Patten to meet survivors, witnesses, released hostages and others affected by October 7 assault to gather info about terrorists’ actions, including rape

Pramila Patten, UN envoy for sexual violence in conflict, in New York, September 14, 2017. (Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)
Pramila Patten, UN envoy for sexual violence in conflict, in New York, September 14, 2017. (Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)

UNITED NATIONS, United States — The United Nations will launch an information-gathering mission at the end of the month over the widespread evidence of sexual assault by Hamas during its devastating October assault on Israel, a spokesman said Wednesday.

During her trip to Israel and the West Bank, Pramila Patten, the UN special representative on sexual violence in conflict, will “gather information on sexual violence reportedly committed in the context of the attacks of October 7 and its aftermath,” the UN secretary-general’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

“She is expected to meet with survivors, witnesses, and others affected by sexual violence to identify avenues of support,” Dujarric said, adding that Patten also plans to meet with “recently released hostages and detainees.”

Patten will “be accompanied by experts in safe and ethical interviewing, forensic evidence, digital analysis, and accountability,” he said, with the trip part of “the exercise of her mandate in accordance with a standard UN methodology.”

The UN has faced criticism for not responding quickly enough to victims’ accounts of rape and sexual assault allegedly committed during Hamas’s massive onslaught in Israel.

Some 3,000 terrorists burst through the border with the Gaza Strip and then rampaged murderously through southern regions, overrunning communities and military posts. The terrorists slaughtered entire families in their homes, raped women, and tortured or mutilated some victims. At an outdoor music festival, over 360 were butchered. Around 1,200 people were killed, mostly civilians.

Demonstrators gather during a ‘#MeToo unless you are a Jew’ protest outside of United Nations headquarters in New York City, on December 4, 2023. (Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFP)

Terrorists also took around 250 hostages of all ages, of whom Israel says 132 remain in Gaza, including at least 25 believed to have been killed.

Israel has responded to the attack with a military campaign aimed at destroying Hamas, removing it from power in Gaza, and freeing the hostages.

The Haaretz daily reported earlier this week that Patten was invited to Israel by the Foreign Ministry and will hand over her findings to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for inclusion in his annual report to the UN Security Council.

On Monday, two UN experts on torture and executions, Alice Jill Edwards and Morris Tidball-Binz, demanded accountability for sexual violence against Israeli civilians during the October 7 Hamas massacre.

The two said that mounting evidence of rapes and genital mutilation point to possible crimes against humanity.

A Supernova party survivor at the Secret Forest retreat center in Cyprus, in an undated photo. Her bracelet is the entrance token from the party, on the date of the massacre. In the October 7, 2023 onslaught, 3,000 Hamas-led terrorists burst through the Gaza border and murdered 1,200 people in southern Israel, most of them civilians, some 360 of them at the Supernova outdoor music festival. (Courtesy)

Israeli authorities have opened an investigation into sexual crimes during what was the most deadly attack ever on the country. Hamas denies the abuses despite overwhelming evidence from eyewitnesses and from footage recorded by the Palestinian terror group itself. The New York Times has said the sexual mutilation was systematic, based on a two-month investigation.

In addition to witness testimony, police have video evidence, testimony from terrorists, and photographs of victims’ bodies that all point toward sexual assault.

It is part of a larger push by the Israel Police to put together cases of murder, torture, and other atrocities committed on October 7. Most details of the investigations are currently under a gag order.

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says over 23,000 people have been killed in the fighting, though these figures cannot be independently verified, and are believed to include both civilians and Hamas members killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires.

The IDF says it has killed over 8,500 operatives in Gaza, in addition to some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

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