U.N. Report Identifies ‘Reasonable Grounds’ for Sexual Assaults on October 7th

U.N. report finds ‘reasonable grounds’ to believe people were sexually assaulted on Oct. 7

A team of United Nations experts investigated sexual violence allegations linked to Hamas’s attacks on Israel on October 7. They found evidence of sexual assaults, including rape and gang rape, at multiple locations, such as the Nova music festival site, Road 232, and Kibbutz Reim.

Victims, mainly women, were often found partially or fully naked, bound, and shot. Additionally, some hostages endured rape, sexualized torture, and cruel treatment. The team, led by Pramila Patten, interviewed survivors and witnesses but couldn’t speak to survivors of sexual violence. Despite efforts, the number of survivors remains unknown, with some reportedly undergoing severe mental distress.

Reviewing over 5,000 photographs and 50 hours of footage, the team found credible information supporting rape followed by murder at the Nova Music Festival. Incidents of rape along Road 232 were also reported, with victims found with genital injuries.

However, a clear pattern of genital mutilation couldn’t be confirmed. Witness testimonies and digital evidence corroborated reports of a woman being raped outside a bomb shelter in Kibbutz Re’im. The team observed indicators of sexual violence in crime scene photos, such as exposed body parts and bound wrists or legs.

The team’s mandate was to collect and verify information on conflict-related sexual violence during the October 7 attacks. They relied on the standard of proof of “reasonable grounds to believe,” evaluating witness credibility and cross-referencing information.

U.N. Report Identifies 'Reasonable Grounds' for Sexual Assaults on October 7th
U.N. Report Identifies ‘Reasonable Grounds’ for Sexual Assaults on October 7th (Credits: New York Post)

Challenges in collecting evidence included limited survivor testimony, dispersed crime scenes, and prioritization of rescue operations. Access to victims/survivors was hindered by a lack of trust in national and international organizations and the absence of dedicated infrastructure.

Despite Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups claiming responsibility for the attacks, the team didn’t conclude on the perpetrators of the alleged sexual violence. They identified two instances of reported sexual violence as unfounded, emphasizing the complexity of investigating such crimes.

Some witnesses became increasingly cautious over time, retracting previous statements, which posed challenges to the investigation. Presenting the findings, Pramila Patten highlighted the difficulty in determining the true prevalence of sexual violence during the attack and its aftermath.

The experts acknowledged that uncovering the full extent of sexual violence might take months or years and could remain unknown. They stressed the importance of continued investigation and support for survivors. Overall, the report underscored the severity and complexity of addressing sexual violence in conflict situations, emphasizing the need for thorough investigation and sustained efforts to support survivors.

Hi there, I am Elizabeth. I am an enthusiastic social worker and dancer. I recently graduated and have a huge interest in digital marketing and content writing. I love listening to music, and watching series and dramas; especially k-drama and kpop. I enjoy learning new languages as well.