UN discovers ‘compelling evidence’ of Hamas committing rape and torture against Israeli captives.

Pramila Patten, the United Nations’ special envoy on sexual violence in conflict, has recently presented findings from interviews with released hostages that indicate ongoing abuses in Gaza. The testimonies she gathered shed light on disturbing incidents of rape and sexualized torture inflicted upon some women and children held captive by Hamas. Patten’s report highlights the presence of “clear and convincing information” supporting these claims and points to “reasonable grounds” for believing that such abuses are continuing.

Patten’s investigative team, consisting of nine experts, conducted a mission to Israel and the West Bank in February. Despite facing several constraints limiting their access and time, including difficulty in meeting survivors of sexual violence from specific attacks, the team managed to extract valuable insights through interviews with released hostages, examination of video evidence, and talks with witnesses. These accounts confirmed instances of sexual violence, including rape, sexualized torture, and other degrading treatment inflicted on vulnerable individuals during their captivity.

The report also underscores the challenge of gaining trust and cooperation from survivors and their families due to skepticism towards national and international bodies like the United Nations. The obstruction caused by media scrutiny and the reluctance of survivors to come forward further complicates efforts to address and combat the persisting violence.

The team’s assessment of the 7 October attacks by Hamas revealed distressing occurrences of conflict-related sexual violence, including rape and gang-rape, documented in multiple locations across the Gaza periphery. Moreover, the team’s outreach in the West Bank informed them of allegations of sexual assault in Israeli detention camps, raising concerns about the treatment of Palestinian detainees.

As efforts for a new ceasefire agreement in Cairo aim to release vulnerable hostages, the delay in progress partly stems from Hamas’ failure to provide a list of the individuals involved. Nonetheless, the push for dialogue and intervention remains crucial in addressing and preventing further atrocities in the region.

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