newsOctober 7

Oct. 7 survivors, hostage families hold event at UN HQ in Geneva

The exhibit coincided with the presentation by the Human Rights Council Commission of Inquiry's latest report on the Oct. 7 massacre.

People visit the site of the Supernova music festival massacre near Kibbutz Re'im, Nov. 30, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.
People visit the site of the Supernova music festival massacre near Kibbutz Re'im, Nov. 30, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.

Survivors of Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre, relatives of hostages and supporters took part in an exhibit at the U.N. Headquarters in Geneva on Wednesday. 

The event, organized by Bring Them Home Now Geneva and the Hostages and Missing Families Forum, took place as the Human Rights Council met to discuss a report on Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre compiled by the U.N. body’s Commission of Inquiry.

The exhibit outside the Palace of Nations, the U.N. Headquarters in Geneva, June 19, 2024. Credit: Bring Them Home Now Geneva.

Similar to the memorial set up at the site of the Supernova music festival near Kibbutz Re’im, the event featured hundreds of pictures of the victims, both those who were murdered at the festival and those who are still in captivity.

Participants also had the opportunity to experience Shlomi’s VR Project, a virtual reality simulation of the rave, the attack and Hamas captivity.

Footage from the massacre itself was shown in a dedicated space. 

“We decided to organize this exhibit because we wanted to put up the faces of the men and women that were brutally murdered by Hamas at the festival,” said Jenny Sividia, a survivor who participated in the event. Her brother Shlomi and his girlfriend, Lilia, were both murdered on Oct. 7.

The exhibit outside U.N. Headquarters in Geneva, June 19, 2024. Credit: Bring Them Home Now Geneva.

The U.N. Human Rights Council’s Commission of Inquiry on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict issued a report last week about the opening months of Israel’s war with Hamas. The report repeatedly claims equivalence between the actions of the Jewish state and those of the terrorist group.

“The United Nations is discussing a special report which accuses Israel of war crimes. Those who committed those crimes are Hamas,” Sividia told JNS. 

“We hope that by looking at their faces, something will change, that people might feel differently,” she added. 

Circling back to the loss of her brother, Sividia explained that her family knows nothing of Shlomi’s last moments on earth. 

“Shlomi wanted to rush home to put his boys into the safe room as Hamas was targeting Israel with rockets. We assume that Shlomi and Lillia were on the run for about an hour and a half before the terrorists got to them,” she said. 

“Shlomi’s body was identified seven days after the attack. There were some families that had to wait up to two months because the bodies were not identifiable,” she continued. 

“The priority was to bring the bodies to burial even as the battle was still going on,” she added. 

Sividia said she witnessed what Hamas terrorists did to others. 

“I ran for my life for about an hour, dodging bullets, grenades and missiles, watching people falling right next to me. Eventually, I reached an orchard. I hid behind grapefruit trees. The terrorists entered the orchard and started shooting at trees, killing everybody that hid there,” she said. 

“They passed next to our tree and missed us. We saw their faces, their shoes, but they didn’t see us. We saw them kill, abuse and mutilate others,” she said.

Captive Romi Gonen’s mother, Meirav, spoke at the Human Rights Council session on Wednesday. 

“I stand before you today not just as a mother, but also as a voice for women who have endured unimaginable suffering, whose pain is not acknowledged,” she said.

“Since October 7, the world has been confronted with the grim reality of the sexual violence that occurred on the day of the attack and during captivity. … The report of the COI has failed to properly address these accounts,” she added.

Romi Gonen’s sister Yarden told JNS, “All of us in Israel and especially the relatives of the hostages were offended, disgusted and shocked by how the Commission of Inquiry addressed the situation of women both in captivity and on Oct. 7.

“We now have so many testimonies, videos, pictures and accounts from released hostages that described the sexual abuse they experienced themselves or witnessed happening to others. Yet it was completely ignored by the Commission,” she continued. 

“This week, Amit Soussana recounted again, so bravely, the sexual abuse that she experienced in captivity. This report is biased. The Commission is helping terror organizations, pushing their narrative, instead of helping the free world and innocent civilians,” she said. 

On Monday, Soussana described the sexual assault she experienced at the hands of Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip during a White House event marking International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict.

“The sexual assault I experienced should never happen to any human being under any circumstances. No one should ever be sexually violated, and there are no justifying circumstances for these crimes,” she said.

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