UN report finds evidence of sexual violence in Israel and

UN report finds evidence of sexual violence in Israel and West Bank during Israel-Hamas war

United Nations CNN –

A United Nations team has found “clear and convincing” information that hostages in Gaza were sexually abused, Pramila Patten, the U.N. special envoy on sexual violence in conflict, told reporters on Monday. There are “reasonable reasons” to believe the sexual violence is ongoing, she added.

According to Patten, the team also found “reasonable grounds to believe that conflict-related sexual violence, including rape and gang rape, occurred during the Hamas terrorist attack in Israel on October 7.” This is the global organization's clearest statement on sexual assault allegations following the attack.

The UN team led by Patten visited Israel between January 29 and February 14 on a mission “aimed at collecting, analyzing and verifying information on conflict-related sexual violence” during October 7 and his Consequences, according to a 24-year-old report. Page report.

The team also traveled to Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, where advocacy groups alleged “cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment”… including the increasing use of various forms of sexual violence, namely invasive strip searches; rape threats; and persistent forced nudity” against detained Palestinians, the UN report said.

Patten stressed on Monday that the mission was “neither intended nor authorized to be investigative in nature,” adding that during its stay in Israel the team had 33 meetings with Israeli institutions, 34 people, including survivors and witnesses of the October 7 attack, interviewed and released hostages and reviewed 50 hours of footage of the attacks.

The mission was unable to meet victims of sexual violence on October 7 “despite our efforts,” Patten said. “On the first day, I called on survivors to come forward. But we received information that a handful of them were receiving very specialized trauma treatment and were unwilling to come forward,” she said.

Hamas has previously denied that its militants committed rape during the Oct. 7 attack.

“We reject the coordination of some Western media outlets with the Zionist misleading campaigns that spread baseless lies and accusations aimed at demonizing the Palestinian resistance, the most recent of which is the allegation that resistance members committed 'sexual violence' during the Battle of Palestine “We firmly stand back and strongly condemn the Al-Aqsa flooding on October 7,” Hamas’s political office said in a statement on Telegram in December.

Finds in Israel and the West Bank

The report said that at various locations in Israel, the mission team “recovered several completely naked or partially naked bodies from the waist down – mostly women – with their hands tied and multiple gunshots, often to the head.”

Although circumstantial, the report continued, “such a pattern of undressing and restraining victims may indicate certain forms of sexual violence.”

Patten said serious violations, most of them rape, were found in at least three locations, “namely on the Nova Music Festival site and its surroundings, on Road 232 and at Kibbutz Re'im.”

However, the mission faces challenges “in both recording and verifying incidents of sexual violence,” Patten noted.

She pointed to the “limited, professionally collected forensic material” and the “inaccurate and unreliable forensic interpretation by some laypeople” at the crime scenes.

The UN team's research was also limited by “the extremely limited availability of victims, survivors and witnesses of sexual violence, in part due to the internal displacement of affected communities, the lack of public trust and confidence in national and international institutions, including the United Nations.” . She said.

Some widespread alleged incidents were also deemed “unfounded” by the mission, she said. This included an unconfirmed claim of a gruesome attack on a pregnant woman and her fetus. An official from an Israeli search and rescue organization told CNN in October that they found a pregnant woman who had been shot in the back and stabbed in the stomach.

The report also said the team was unable to verify a reported case of rape at the Nahal Oz military base and genital mutilation. “In the latter case, forensic analysis was able to examine injuries to intimate body parts, but no discernible pattern was found in either female or male soldiers. However, seven female soldiers were abducted from this base to Gaza,” the report said.

During their stay in the West Bank, they said they were told about the “cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment” to which Palestinian women and men were subjected during their detention.

The mission was told that Palestinian detainees were subjected to various forms of sexual violence, from “unwanted touching of intimate areas and forced exposure of women wearing hijab; beating, including in the genital area; Rape threats against women and rape threats against female family members (wives, sisters, daughters) in the case of men.”

The report said concerns were also raised about the circulation of images of incarcerated women and the “privilege of women’s menstrual products.”

CNN has reached out to the Israeli Defense Forces for comment.

This is a developing story and will be updated.