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Silence and denial: The global response to Hamas sex crimes

No war justifies rape, no matter which side you support.

Posters saying, “Rape Is Resistance.” Credit: Courtesy.
Posters saying, “Rape Is Resistance.” Credit: Courtesy.

Women’s rights and achievements were just celebrated on International Women’s Day on March 8, while many still refuse to acknowledge the sexual assaults of Israeli girls and women by Iran-backed Hamas terrorists. The terrifying acts committed by Hamas are continuing against 19 Israeli female hostages who remain in captivity. There also are six Americans among a total of 134 hostages.

After an agonizing delay, the United Nations finally confirmed what was clear from the graphic evidence filmed by Hamas: women and girls were brutally raped, mutilated and murdered during the Oct. 7 massacre. The deafening silence until now left by U.N. officials, human-rights activists and women’s organizations undermines their stated commitment to all women’s rights, especially Jews.

‘We are OK to be raped, to be murdered’

More than 200 women marked International Women’s Day by demonstrating outside the headquarters of the UN Women’s Agency for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in New York, chanting “Shame” and “Bring Them Home Now!” The protest organizer told the crowd: “UN Women does not see it as their job to keep Israeli women safe. We are OK to be raped, to be murdered. Not one word from the chief of UN Women about what happened to our sisters. ‘Believe all women’ is a feminist promise for all women.”

UN Women and its president waited nearly two months before condemning Hamas and calling for the release of the hostages on Instagram before deleting the post; its new post removed the condemnation of Hamas. The U.N. agency touts itself as “a global champion for women and girls.” This includes “a woman’s right to live free from violence.” Apparently, this does not apply to Jewish victims of rape.

Marisa Shemi, whose relative Na’ama Levy was taken captive on Oct. 7 in bloodstained pants and remains captive by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, read a statement at the rally from Na’ama’s mother: “These horrific moments turned her into the daughter of all of us. We must be her voice—the banished voice of a young woman being held by Hamas for five months.”

The United Nations finally released a substantive report confirming “clear and convincing information that sexual violence, including rape, sexualized torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment was committed against hostages. There is reasonable ground to believe it is ongoing. Rape and gang rape occurred. There were victims first subjected to rape and then killed. Music festival victims were found fully or partially undressed, bound and shot.”

The U.N. Security Council met on March 11 to review the report. However, the world body has a long history of anti-Israel bias. Exhibiting the “impartiality” required of her position as a U.N. special rapporteur Francesca Albanese tweeted that “Israeli women, especially the soldiers, will be haunted forever” for attempting to defeat Hamas and rescue the hostages. Only days later did the U.N. leader state that she hopes the hostages will be released soon.

Israeli Women Hostages Forgotten
Political cartoons depicting the moral depravity and indifference of the United Nations, women’s rights groups and the international community in acknowledging sex crimes committed by Hamas terrorists against Israeli girls and women, and ignoring the trauma of the hostages. Credit: Guy Morad on X and Moshik Gulst for UN Watch.

Rape Denial: ‘Believe Women’ Became ‘Believe Hamas’

Too many have ignored the rape and violence committed by Hamas against girls, pregnant women and even grandmothers, including feminists. Global women’s rights groups remained silent as Israeli women testified. The executive director of an Israeli crisis center stated: “Champions of human rights, feminism and social justice have been bending over backwards to justify atrocities and rationalize rape.” The selected advocacy of so-called women’s rights organizations led to the “Me Too Unless You Are a Jew” campaign.

Bret Stephens recently wrote a column in The New York Times called “The New Rape Denialism.” He points out that most of the Israeli women who were raped cannot testify because they were murdered. The journalist also describes the history of anti-Jewish denialism: criticisms, inversions and rhetoric designed to confuse and deny crimes committed against Jews. This led groups to change their tune from “believe women” to “believe Hamas.”

Hamas continues to deny that its terrorists raped Israelis despite its video recordings and captured terrorists admitting what they perpetrated: “We had our way with them, to dirty them, to rape them,” and “we had sex with dead bodies.”

‘Hamas sexual abuse was a clear operational strategy’

The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel documented in its “Silent Cry: Sexual Crimes in the 10/7 War” report: “As the scar in our hearts refuses to heal, and the souls of our sisters and brothers cry out to us from the ground, many of those we thought were partners and allies remain silent and deny the horrors. We urge you to amplify their voices and not allow these victims to be silenced.”

Israeli Women Deserve to Be Protected
Poster slogan: “Israeli Women Deserve to Be Protected.” Credit: Courtesy.

The report concludes that the Hamas sexual assaults “were carried out systematically and deliberately. Sexual assault occurred in front of family members. Terrorists ‘hunted’ women who escaped at the Nova music festival, dragging them by their hair after being captured. Hamas terrorists mutilated girls, women and men. The terrorists practiced brutality and sadism. These were systematic sexual assaults perpetrated by Hamas terrorists.”

Released hostage Aviva Siegel described how Hamas terrorists treated captive girls and boys: “The terrorists bring inappropriate clothes for the girls, the clothes of dolls. They turned the girls into their dolls, that they can do whatever they want with. I want to tell you that the boys go through these things, too. They can’t get pregnant, but they also go through it. I can’t understand how the world is silent.”

‘The bond between Israel and America’

Bring Them Home Female Hostages
A poster of female hostages who have been held in captivity by Hamas in the Gaza Strip since the terrorist attacks in southern Israel on Oct. 7, 2023. Credit: Courtesy.

Sixteen U.S. representatives and senators, both Democrats and Republicans, invited relatives of American and Israeli hostages to U.S. President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address. House Speaker Mike Johnson invited released hostage Mia Schem.

Mia was “deeply honored and grateful to the Speaker for allowing me to show my gratitude for the U.S. government. My thoughts and prayers are constantly with my friends who are still being held hostage by Hamas terrorists. The bond between our countries is more important than ever and cannot be broken. As believers in God, we continue to pray together for peace.”

Points to consider:

  1. Jewish victims should never bear the burden of proving their trauma.

There is an additional burden of proof demanded of Israeli women to prove that Hamas terrorists raped them. Israeli evidence is met with skepticism or outright denied. Jewish social-media influencer and former Real Housewives of New York cast member Lizzy Savetsky: “It’s been 154 days of silence, denial, hypocrisy and cowardice. It’s disgusting. I have never been more outraged.” Israeli girls and women must be believed. Placing the burden of proof on the victims only serves to further victimize and marginalize them, perpetuating their trauma. Victims of any form of violence, including Jews, should never be worried about proving the validity of their experiences.

  1. The evidence of Hamas sex crimes is undeniable.

If the forensic evidence and detailed survivor testimony is not enough, Hamas terrorists admitted to raping Israelis and recorded their atrocities. Other rape victims cannot share their stories because they were murdered. Despite the irrefutable evidence, Hamas officials and sympathetic groups, including some Americans, deny the brutality perpetrated by Hamas terrorists. Attempts to bring attention to their crimes are met with opposition with some dismissing the evidence as fabricated or exaggerated. This widespread denial creates a challenging environment for the victims to seek justice or even empathy. It also prevents efforts to hold the perpetrators accountable and prevent further abuses.

  1. Hamas sexual assaults against Israeli hostages are still happening.

Released Israeli hostages have testified that they were abused and witnessed abuse of other Israeli girls, boys, women and men in Hamas captivity. This is a grave violation of both human rights and international law. The persistence of such heinous acts underscores the urgent need to free the hostages and hold the Iran-backed Hamas terrorists responsible. The inaction to address the suffering of the hostages by the United Nations, human-rights groups and women’s organizations only emboldens the perpetrators. Significant pressure must be applied to Hamas to release the remaining hostages and bring the terrorists to justice.

  1. There is NO context that justifies rape.

Hamas apologists describe rape as “justified.” Protesters across America and around the world have rallied to “Free Palestine from the river to the sea, by any means necessary” and chanted to “Globalize the intifada.” These are open calls to destroy Israel and violently attack Jews. Posters and stickers found in New York justify the rape of Israelis and the murder of babies. Hamas and its supporters believe the existence of any Jewish state in the ancestral homeland of Jews as “occupied.” The abhorrent acts committed by Palestinian terrorists are egregious violations of human rights and must be unequivocally condemned. No war justifies rape, no matter which side you support. Any attempt to rationalize sex crimes will only give the perpetrators more legitimacy and license.

  1. Hamas terrorists vow to rape and murder Israelis again and again.

A Hamas official stated that the Iran-backed terrorist group is “prepared to repeat the Oct. 7 attacks time and again until Israel is annihilated. Everything we do is justified.” Hamas is part of Iran’s nucleus of terror—a network of terrorists dedicated to wiping the Jewish state off the map. Hamas proved to be a threat to Israel’s existence. Its continuing attacks justify Israeli military action aimed at eliminating Hamas and its lethal capabilities while protecting Israeli lives and seeking to minimize civilian casualties.

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