U.N. Team Finds Grounds to Support Reports of Sexual Violence in Hamas Attack

A United Nations report released on Monday found signs that sexual violence was committed in multiple locations during the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attack on Israel and said that some hostages being held in the Gaza Strip had also been subjected to rape and sexual torture.

From late January to early February, the United Nations deployed a team of experts to Israel and the West Bank led by Pramila Patten, the secretary-general’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict.

In their report, the experts said they had found “reasonable grounds” to believe that sexual violence occurred during the Hamas-led incursion into Israel, including rape and gang rape in at least three locations: the Nova music festival site and the area around it, as well as Road 232 and Kibbutz Re’im.

“In most of these incidents, victims first subjected to rape were then killed, and at least two incidents relate to the rape of women’s corpses,” the report said.

The U.N. report, which also cited allegations that Palestinians detained by Israel have also been sexually abused, was issued three months after The New York Times published an extensive report on sexual violence during the Hamas-led attack, including several incidents along Road 232. Hamas leaders denied the accusations, and the U.N. report, noting the array of fighters who took part in the Oct. 7 attack, said its experts could not determine who was responsible for the sexual assaults.

In their report, the U.N. experts cited indications of sexual violence that had not previously been widely reported, including the rape of a woman outside a bomb shelter at the entrance of Kibbutz Re’im. That incident was corroborated by witness testimony and digital material, the report said.

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