U.N. finds 'clear and convincing' information that hostages have been raped in Gaza

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A elder United Nations charismatic recovered “clear and convincing” accusation that hostages person been raped and sexually abused successful Gaza and recovered “reasonable grounds” to judge intersexual violence, including rape and pack rape, occurred during nan Oct. 7 violent onslaught led by Hamas.

“Based connected nan accusation it gathered, nan ngo squad recovered clear and convincing accusation that intersexual violence, including rape, sexualized torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading curen has been committed against hostages," nan U.N. said successful a report, adding that it "has reasonable grounds to judge that specified unit whitethorn beryllium ongoing against those still held successful captivity.”

Pramila Patten, nan secretary-general’s typical typical connected intersexual unit successful conflict, said successful nan 23-page study that she was incapable to find nan nonstop scope of intersexual unit that occurred Oct. 7. She concluded that uncovering nan precise number of intersexual assaults and identifying nan perpetrators of specified crimes would require a full-fledged investigation and “may return months aliases years to emerge.”

“In astir of these incidents, victims first subjected to rape were past killed, and astatine slightest 2 incidents subordinate to nan rape of women’s corpses,” nan U.N. said successful a property merchandise Monday. 

The U.N. study said it has “reasonable grounds to believe” that astatine slightest 5 rapes occurred during nan Oct. 7 attack, successful which members of Palestinian Islamic Jihad and different equipped groups besides took part. Patten said her squad heard reliable accounts of astatine slightest 2 rapes of corpses astatine nan Nova euphony show and nan surrounding area, 1 rape extracurricular a explosive shelter astatine nan entranceway to kibbutz Re’im and 2 connected Road 232, which runs parallel to nan Gaza Strip.

“Based connected nan introspection of disposable information, including reliable statements by eyewitnesses, location are reasonable grounds to judge that aggregate incidents of rape, including pack rape, occurred successful and astir nan Nova show tract during nan 7 October attacks,” nan study states. “Credible accusation was obtained regarding aggregate incidents whereby victims were subjected to rape and past killed. There are further accounts of individuals who witnessed astatine slightest 2 incidents of rape of corpses of women.”

U.N. officials said that nan reported rape of a female extracurricular a explosive shelter astatine nan entranceway of kibbutz Re’im was corroborated by witnesser testimonies and integer material. Patten was incapable to verify reports of intersexual unit astatine kibbutz Be’eri, wherever Israeli officials opportunity much than 100 group were killed.

More than 1,200 group died successful nan attack, according to Israeli officials. The consequent Israeli violative against Hamas has killed much 30,000 group successful Gaza, according to nan Hamas-run Health Ministry there. 

During her trip, Patten besides visited nan West Bank metropolis of Ramallah to meet pinch Palestinian officials and erstwhile detainees regarding allegations of intersexual unit by Israeli information forces and settlers. She said that officials and 4 erstwhile detainees described threats of rape and different dehumanizing behaviour toward Palestinian detainees, including forced nudity and invasive assemblage searches. 

Israeli officials opportunity they are investigating allegations of misconduct against Palestinians by Israeli information forces and settlers.

hamas violent onslaught civilians car autoIDF-released bodycam from Hamas from Oct. 7, 2023.IDF

As portion of their work, Patten said, her squad reviewed much than 5,000 photographs and astir 50 hours of footage related to nan Oct. 7 attack.

In early December, NBC News reported that evidence, chiefly from nan Israel Defense Forces and Israeli officials, suggested that dozens of Israeli women were raped, sexually abused aliases mutilated during nan Oct. 7 attack.

After nan merchandise of nan U.N. study Monday, Israeli officials, shared 2 twelve images and videos pinch NBC News that they said they had provided to nan U.N. team. Some of nan photos had been shared pinch NBC News previously. Some had not.

The photos and videos showed female bodies stripped of clothing, immoderate pinch their hands tied down their backs. Some showed what appeared to beryllium dried humor successful dormant women’s genital areas.

Israeli officials said they told U.N. investigators that they judge that 1 photograph shows that aggregate nails were pushed wrong a woman’s little abdomen and genital area. Israeli officials said they judge different photograph shows that a weapon had been inserted successful a woman’s vagina.

Patten said her forensics squad could not verify that an entity had been inserted into a assemblage based connected nan photos, which were taken by Israeli first responders arsenic portion of their efforts to effort to place bodies. 

NBC News was besides shown nan photos but could not independently corroborate that nails aliases a weapon had been inserted successful nan women’s bodies based solely connected nan images.

In nan chaotic aftermath of nan attack, Israeli reservists, unpaid first responders and morgue workers did not execute autopsies aliases usage rape kits. They initially feared that Hamas fighters remained wrong Israel. They were overwhelmed by nan number of dead.

In immoderate cases, nan recognition of bodies, peculiarly severely burned ones, took weeks aliases months. In addition, galore families, aft receiving nan bodies, tried to travel nan Jewish contented of burying nan dormant wrong 24 hours.  

Patten said that nan deficiency of forensic grounds postulation posed a situation to her team. Potential witnesses besides feared societal stigmatization.

The travel was not investigative successful quality but was for nan intent of gathering, analyzing and verifying accusation for imaginable inclusion successful nan yearly U.N. study connected conflict-related intersexual violence, she said.

Israeli officials invited Patten connected Nov. 8, 1 period aft nan attack. She said she agreed to behaviour nan ngo if she would beryllium capable to activity freely and independently from Israeli authorities and meet pinch Palestinians successful nan West Bank. Given nan ongoing subject operations successful Gaza, she did not effort to participate nan enclave but noted that different U.N. entities are operating there, including those that show conflict-related intersexual violence.

After arriving successful Israel connected Jan. 29, Patten and her squad of experts spent 17 days gathering pinch representatives of 33 Israeli institutions and organizations. They besides visited 4 locations where sexual unit reportedly occurred Oct. 7. 

The U.N squad conducted 34 confidential interviews, including pinch witnesses of nan Oct. 7 attack, first responders and 2 released hostages, according to nan report.

Patten said her squad did not question and reply immoderate survivors of intersexual violence. Israeli officials and relatives of nan survivors opportunity that they are still receiving specialized trauma treatment.

Patten and 1 of her squad leaders, Chloe Marnay-Baszanger, said to reporters astatine nan U.N. pursuing nan merchandise of nan study Monday afternoon.

Asked by a newsman if she was capable to analyse freely, she said Israeli officials complied pinch her petition to person nary limits placed connected her work.

“I was not chaperoned,” she said.

Anna Schecter

Anna Schecter is simply a elder shaper successful nan NBC News Investigations Unit.