February 22, 2024

Israel organized a meeting at the UN in Geneva to address acts of sexual violence by Hamas during their October 7 attacks. The Israeli authorities have opened an investigation into the sexual violence and Hamas denies the abuses. The UN human rights office has condemned the attacks and criticized Israel for not granting access to its monitors. The event was attended by diplomats, rights groups, and UN agencies, and Israel’s diplomatic mission described the acts of sexual violence by Hamas as “widespread”. Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, an Associate Professor at Bar-Ilan University, criticized UN rights bodies for downplaying and minimizing the sexual violence. She is meeting with UN Human Rights chief Volker Turk to convey this message and request a strong condemnation of the attacks. Evidence includes testimonies by first responders and access to photos corroborating some of those accounts. Halperin-Kaddari also wants to see independent bodies investigate the crimes. The UN Human Rights Council has called for Israeli authorities to cooperate with this inquiry.