Pramila Patten, special representative of the U.N. secretary-general on sexual violence in conflict, plans to arrive in Israel on Monday, the United Nations announced on Thursday.
Patten, who was invited by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, also plans to visit Palestinian-controlled areas in Judea and Samaria on the trip, which is expected to last into early February.
The Mauritian barrister will “gather information on sexual violence, reportedly committed in the context of the attacks of Oct. 7 and its aftermath,” the international body announced earlier this month.
The United Nations and its agencies have come under heavy scrutiny for failing, for two months, to acknowledge credible, mounting allegations of sexual violence committed by Hamas and Palestinian civilians from Gaza during the Oct. 7 massacre.
The Israeli mission to the United Nations told JNS that Gilad Erdan, Israel’s U.N. ambassador, will accompany Patten on parts of the trip.
The U.N. official was involved in a confrontation days ago with Linor Abargil—an Israeli lawyer, actress and former “Miss World,” who is a rape victim and who advocates against sexual violence.
Abargil approached Patten during a U.N. event and told her, “I have to tell you that as a rape victim, I’m so disappointed from your behavior and from you not condemning all the abuse that happened to our women.”
Patten responded, “Maybe you should have all the facts.”
“I have the facts, and after two months you didn’t have even one response,” said Abargil as one of Patten’s apparent handlers asked her, “Can we not have this in front of the camera?”
Undeterred, Abargil continued, “Why? You saw the testimony. This is now the time for action.”
“If it was your daughter, would it take you two months? If it was your sister?” she pressed. “Tell me. Why you don’t answer?”
Patten promptly departed the event.
Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres, said that Patten’s mission will be conducted “in accordance with her standard U.N. methodology.” She is expected to meet with survivors, witnesses and others affected by sexual violence “to identify avenues of support.”
‘Identify avenues of support’
She also proposes to meet with released hostages, and she will be joined by experts in “safe and ethical interviewing, forensic evidence, digital analysis and accountability.”
However, the mandate of Patten’s office does not allow her to conduct an official investigation. Asked by JNS earlier this month what Patten will do with the information she collects, Dujarric said the official will “report back on what she has seen or what she has heard,” and that Patten’s mission is part of her advocacy.
He clarified that the much-derided U.N. Commission of Inquiry, which purports to investigate the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is the only U.N. body with investigative powers over Oct. 7.
The commission has been assailed by several countries, including some that are not typically aligned with Israel, for the documented anti-Israel and antisemitic comments of its members and the unprecedented and perpetual scope of its mandate.
The Israeli government refuses to work with the commission as a result.