Creating new perspectives since 2009

Israel obstructs UN investigation into alleged rape on 7 October, prevents interviews of victims

April 16, 2024 at 7:18 pm

Israeli soldiers gather as Israeli settler activists attempting to enter Gazan territory from the Erez Border Crossing between northern Gaza and Israel on February 29, 2024. [Mostafa Alkharouf – Anadolu Agency]

United Nations’ investigators have criticised Israel for actively preventing them from speaking to victims and witnesses of the 7 October attacks into Israeli-held territory by Hamas, amid growing scepticism of Israel’s account of the events.

According to Chris Sidoti, former human rights commissioner of Australia and one of the three members of the UN’s Commission of Inquiry into abuses committed in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, “we have not only seen a lack of cooperation [from the Israeli government], but active obstruction of our efforts to receive evidence from Israeli witnesses and victims to the events that occurred in southern Israel”.

Over the past six months, Israel has repeatedly alleged that Hamas militants and fighters committed numerous atrocities against Israeli civilians in settlements and areas surrounding the besieged Gaza Strip on 7 October last year, as part of the Resistance group’s Operation Al-Aqsa Flood.

One of the key acts Israel accuses the fighters of committing was the rape and sexual assault of numerous Israeli women. Those claims have increasingly been disputed and questioned over the months, however, with even Israeli police reportedly being unable to find victims – either dead or alive – of the Hamas’s alleged sexual crimes.

READ: Why Israel insists on defending its lies about the October attack

Now, the UN probe into Israel’s allegations is itself growing frustrated with what it acknowledges is the government’s active attempts to obstruct the investigation.

Stressing that the investigation has found it difficult to collect evidence from large numbers of witnesses, Sidoti revealed that some of the digital evidence investigators began collecting early on 7 October has since “disappeared from the internet”, in what could be potential government interference.

“I use this opportunity to appeal again both to the government of Israel to cooperate, and to victims and witnesses to the events in southern Israel to contact the Commission of Inquiry so that we can hear what they have experienced”, he stated. “If it [the evidence] had not been collected on that day, it would not have been able to be collected.”

Navi Pillay, a former UN rights chief and former South African High Court judge who is currently chairing the three-person Commission, also criticised Tel Aviv’s obstruction today, stating that “I deplore the fact that people inside Israel who wish to speak to us are being denied that opportunity, because we cannot get access into Israel.”

In response to the briefing today, Israel’s mission to the UN insisted to the AFP news agency that UN representatives have been to Israel to meet with victims and survivors of the attacks, while claiming that the victims “know too well that they will never get any justice or the dignified treatment they deserve from the Commission of Inquiry and its members, who have a track record of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel statements”.

READ: Israeli soldiers accused of raping Palestinian women and children