newsIsrael at War

UN official won’t say who accused IDF of rape, sexual abuse

Reem Alsalem says she is “not a technical expert on videos” and therefore can’t assess mountains of footage of Hamas’s Oct. 7 crimes.

Reem Alsalem, U.N. special rapporteur on violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences, briefs reporters following the presentation of her report to the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly on Oct. 3, 2023. Credit: Rick Bajornas/U.N. Photo.
Reem Alsalem, U.N. special rapporteur on violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences, briefs reporters following the presentation of her report to the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly on Oct. 3, 2023. Credit: Rick Bajornas/U.N. Photo.

Another United Nations special rapporteur is using her platform to deny terrorist attacks against Israel.

Reem Alsalem, a Jordanian national and U.N. special rapporteur on violence against women and girls, is an author of a Feb. 19 report listing alleged abuses by Israel against Palestinian women and girls, including reports of “multiple forms of sexual assault, such as being stripped naked and searched by male Israeli army officers.”

It adds that “at least two female Palestinian detainees were reportedly raped while others were reportedly threatened with rape and sexual violence.”

The report also alleges that the Israel Defense Forces kidnapped Palestinian babies.

In an interview on an Israeli news program, Alsalem refused to detail even the most basic of information about the accusations, including the identity of the accuser or accusers, that she called “reasonably credible.”

Israeli diplomatic officials vigorously dispute the accusations and believe the information in Alsalem’s report originated with Euro-Med Monitor, a virulently anti-Israel NGO operating under the human rights banner and headed by Richard Falk.

Falk is a noted conspiracy theorist and former U.N. special rapporteur, who was deported from Israel in 2008 after arriving to purportedly investigate Israeli crimes.

Euro-Med Monitor published its own similar report in late February.

Falk’s appointment to the U.N. position was controversial, given his extensive history of anti-Israel rhetoric.

Alsalem refused to admit that Hamas carried out sexual violence on Oct. 7, saying that she had not received the information necessary to carry out her work. She made that claim despite an extensive fact-finding mission and report released this week by Pramila Patten, the U.N. secretary-general’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict.

The report found “clear and convincing information” of sexual violence carried out against hostages in Gaza and “reasonable grounds” to believe Israeli women were raped at three separate locations on Oct. 7.

“We cannot rely only on digital material or material produced online or by the media,” said Alsalem when asked if she watched Hamas’s extensive video documentation of its Oct. 7 terrorist acts, which are widely available for viewing.

“I’m not a technical expert on videos, so I on my own will not be able to assess those videos. I will also need to seek technical expertise,” Alsalem said.

She intimated that she either calls into question the authenticity of footage of Hamas’s Oct. 7 crimes—much of it taken from the GoPro cameras by Hamas terrorists themselves—or that she is incapable of locating and playing videos online without expert assistance.

Pressed as to whether she believes Israeli women had been raped on Oct. 7, Alsalem would only allow: “It may have happened, indeed.”

She also initially denied that Hamas and Hezbollah have launched regular missile attacks during the current war. The United Nations has documented those attacks.

“At this point, I have not seen that, no,” Alsalem said.

She then conceded, when pressed, “I have seen missile attacks.”

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