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UN asks Israel for permission to probe all allegations of sexual assault during war

December 8, 2023 at 8:46 pm

Pramila Patten, Special Representative of the Secretary, at the United Nations, October 30, 2019 [EuropaNewswire/Gado/Getty Images]

Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict asked Israel, Friday, for permission to probe all allegations of sexual violence during the current Israel-Palestine war.

Israel previously invited Pramila Patten for an official visit to meet with survivors of sexual violence, including men and women freed from Hamas captivity who say they were subjected to rape during their confinement.

Patten said she “is gravely concerned about emerging reports of sexual violence, against both women and men, while they were held in Hamas captivity,” and expressed concern for hostages whom Hamas continues to hold captive.

“She unequivocally condemned the attacks by Hamas on 7 October and expressed her serious concern over horrific reports of sexual violence and atrocities allegedly committed by them and expressed sympathy for the severe collective trauma wrought by this brutality,” the UN said.

Any further UN engagement must be conditioned on Israel granting permission to independently investigate all allegations of sexual violence, including those made by Palestinians against Israel, the international body said.

“As a basis for UN engagement, SRSG Patten calls for robust and independent investigations into all allegations of sexual violence in connection with the current conflict,” the UN said in a statement.

“In this respect, she urges the State of Israel to grant access to United Nations entities with an investigative mandate, which have promptly signalled their availability and willingness to examine the scope and extent of these crimes, including allegations of sexual violence against Palestinians,” it added.

Following Hamas’s 7 October cross-border attack on Israel in which more than 1,200 people were killed, Patten activated what is known as the UN Action inter-agency coordination network, which she chairs, to “proactively share UN-verified information on incidents, patterns and trends of conflict-related sexual violence.”

No such cases have been received to date “largely due to prevailing insecurity and lack of access,” according to the UN.

READ: Hamas: Rape claims aim to tarnish group’s ‘humane treatment of hostages’