U.N. says


A United Nations report released Monday said there were “reasonable grounds to believe” sexual violence, including rape and gang rape, occurred at several locations during Hamas’ Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel. The report by the U.N.’s special envoy on sexual violence Pramila Patten said there was also reason to believe sexual abuse of Israeli hostages still believed to be held in Gaza was “ongoing.”

“Credible circumstantial information, which may be indicative of some forms of sexual violence, including genital mutilation, sexualized torture, or cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, was also gathered,” the 24-page U.N. report said.

Hamas rejected the allegations in the new report, as it has done since claims of sexual violence first emerged soon after the Oct. 7 attack.

U.N. experts interviewed dozens of witnesses and reviewed thousands of photos and 50 hours of video created during the attack, but the team were unable to meet with any survivors of sexual violence.

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The U.N. team also visited the Israeli-occupied West Bank to examine what they said were credible allegations of sexual assault of Palestinians in Israeli jails and detention centers. The report said the U.N. had raised the allegations with the Israeli Ministry of Justice and Military Advocate General, which said it had received no complaints of sexual violence by members of the Israel Defense Forces.

Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz responded to the report by recalling the country’s U.N. ambassador for consultations over what he said was the global body’s attempt to “keep quiet” the news of the findings.

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Katz criticized U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for not convening the Security Council to discuss the findings in order to declare Hamas a terrorist organization. The U.S. government, along with Israel’s and most of Europe, have long classified Hamas as a terrorist organization, but it has not been designated as such by the Security Council.

U.N. spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said Guterres “fully supported” Patten’s work in her visit to Israel, “to look into conflict related acts of sexual violence linked to the 7 October terror attacks. The work was done thoroughly and expeditiously.”

“In no way, shape or form did the Secretary-General do anything to keep the report ‘quiet.’ In fact, the report is being presented publicly today,” Dujarric said.

Guterres said late last year that reports of sexual violence committed on Oct. 7 “must be vigorously investigated and prosecuted,” stressing that “gender-based violence must be condemned. Anytime. Anywhere.”

Israeli President Isaac Herzog said the report was “of immense importance.”

“It substantiates with moral clarity and integrity the systematic, premeditated, and ongoing sexual crimes committed by Hamas terrorists against Israeli women,” he said in a statement.

Hamas, in its statement rejecting the report, accused Paten of relying on “Israeli institutions, soldiers and witnesses who were chosen by the occupation authorities, to push towards an attempt to prove this false accusation, which was refuted by all investigations.”

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“Ms. Patten’s allegations clearly contradict what emerged from the testimonies of Israeli women about the good treatment of them by the resistance fighters, as well as the testimonies of released Israeli female prisoners and what they confirmed of the good treatment they received during their captivity in Gaza,” the statement added.

In December, CBS News spoke with Rami Shmael, who produced the Supernova music festival at which some 260 people were massacred during Hamas’ attack. Shmael returned to the festival site the following day and saw the gruesome aftermath.

“Outside two cars, there was also two young ladies, naked from the waist down,” Shmael told CBS News. “One of the victims was gunshot down in the lower part of her body.”

An Israeli soldier visits the site where revelers were killed on Oct. 7, 2023 in a cross-border attack by Hamas militants at the Supernova music festival in Re’im, southern Israel, Jan. 21, 2024, during an event where friends and relatives planted trees in memory of their loved ones.

Leo Correa/AP

A supervisor with the Israeli search and recovery team in charge of collecting the bodies showed CBS News some of the injuries he saw and documented, including women whose bodies had lacerations, stabbings and gunshots to their genital areas.

CBS News correspondent Imtiaz Tyab contributed to this report.


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