Violence Against Women and International Law, April 2024 Update

This is the April 2024 update to first installment of the guide I published on November 23, 2023 – link here. The initial guide had 8 pertinent sources on this topic comprising government reports, academic papers, reviews of UN/NGO programs, news, databases, analysis and commentary. Part 2 of this series, posted December 31, 2023 – link is here expanded the original guide with more than a dozen new sources. The February 2024 update to this guide, with links to over two dozen sources, is here.

This update comprises recent news, reporting, and social media postings. It also includes a report issued by the UN acknowledging, despite months of denial, prevarication and statements to the contrary in official communications as well as action by various representatives of the organization that…“Based on the information it gathered, the mission team found clear and convincing information that sexual violence, including rape, sexualized torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment has been committed against hostages and has reasonable grounds to believe that such violence may be ongoing against those still held in captivity.”

*Content Warning – Please be advised that some of the following abstracts, reports and articles contain graphic details about the physical, sexual, emotional and psychological gender violence used against women, girls and men on October 7, 2023. Note – *April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. 14 women have been held hostage by Hamas for more than 200 days.

U.N. report: ‘Convincing’ information Hamas raped, tortured hostages – Follow up to Violence Against Women and International Law – Updated February 2024 – identifying and documenting pertinent sources for researchers on the October 7, 2023 terrorist attack and violence against women and girls, on March 4, 2024 the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict issued a report. “…Following visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Ms. Pramila Patten, finds sexual violence occurred on 7 October, and against hostages and calls for a fully-fledged investigation New York. The mission team conducted a total of 33 meetings with Israeli national institutions, including relevant line ministries, as well as the Israeli security forces. It visited the Israeli National Center of Forensic Medicine, the Shura military base, the morgue to which the bodies of victims were transferred, as well as four locations affected by the 7 October attacks, in relation to which reports of sexual violence had emerged. The mission team reviewed over 5,000 photographic images and approximately 50 hours of footage of the attacks, in a concerted effort to identify any potential instances or indications of conflict-related sexual violence. It conducted confidential interviews with a total of 34 interviewees, including with survivors and witnesses of the 7 October attacks, released hostages, first responders, health and service providers amongst others. While the number of survivors/victims of sexual violence of 7 October remains unknown, the mission team was made aware that a small number of those are reportedly undergoing treatment and continue to experience severe mental distress and trauma. Despite concerted efforts to encourage them to come forward, the mission team was not able to interview any of these survivors/victims. The mission team also met with families and relatives of hostages still held in captivity, members of displaced kibbutzim communities, as well as representatives from Israeli civil society organizations and academia. The Israeli national authorities faced numerous challenges in the collection of evidence in pursuit of their investigations. Efforts to collect evidence were beset by the limited availability of forensic information, due to the large number of casualties and widely-dispersed crime scenes; a context of active hostilities; the prioritization of search and rescue operations as well as the recovery, identification and burial of the deceased in accordance with religious practices over the collection of forensic evidence; the loss of potentially valuable evidence due to the interventions of some untrained volunteer first responders; the alteration of crime scenes in some cases, as well as the large number of bodies affected by extensive burn damage.

Based on the information it gathered, the mission team found clear and convincing information that sexual violence, including rape, sexualized torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment has been committed against hostages and has reasonable grounds to believe that such violence may be ongoing against those still held in captivity. In line with a survivor/victim-centered approach, findings are conveyed in generic terms and details are not revealed…” See also They were taken by Hamas: Here are the names and faces. “We will not rest until every hostage is released and returns home safely,” the Hostages and Missing Families Forum says.

Greenberg Traurig, National Jewish Advocacy Center, Schoen Law Firm, and Holtzman Vogel Represent American and Israeli Victims of Hamas Oct. 7 Terrorist Attack in Lawsuit Against AJP Educational Foundation, Inc. a/k/a American Muslims for Palestine and National Students for Justice in Palestine. May 1, 2024…“We have assembled a formidable team who will make certain that the strong evidence showing the defendants have violated the rule of law is presented in an American courtroom. Our team will work tirelessly to hold these organizations accountable for their actions carried out in concert with terrorists.”

NGO Monitor – The NGO Network Orchestrating Antisemitic Incitement on American Campuses, April 25, 2024: In the wake of October 7, the exponential rise in antisemitic violence, incitement, intimidation, and harassment on and around campuses in the United States is not the product of spontaneous protests of individuals. Rather, they are tightly coordinated and well-funded by a network of radical and often antisemitic non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), Within Our Lifetime, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, and Samidoun. Under the guise of human rights and justice, these NGOs work to undermine the economic, military and other ties between US and Israel, and to besiege and divide the US Jewish community. All of these groups have supported and justified the October 7th massacre, as well as other attacks. Many of the NGOs in the network are directly linked to designated Palestinian terror organizations. A common feature of all these NGOs is non-transparent funding and structure, as documented in detailed NGO Monitor research.

Hillel Neuer, April 26, 2024. UN says its Office of Internal Oversight has been receiving evidence from Israel since January, enabling UN investigation of 19 UNRWA staff for involvement in October 7th massacre. UN investigators have traveled to Israel for “productive” discussions, will return soon.

The Jerusalem Post via MSN, April 23, 2024 – UN fails to black list Hamas for rape, Israel condemns decision while US is silent – The United Nations omitted Hamas from its blacklist of state and non-state parties guilty of sexual violence in 2023, due to a lack of evidence it deemed credible enough. The blacklist was part of a larger annual report on sexual violence authored by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, which was completed this month and debated Tuesday at the United Nations Security Council. Guterres’s April report described sexual violence in 18 conflict settings or situations of concern, including the Hamas-led October invasion of Israel and Russia’s war against Ukraine. But it found that credible evidence that met UN criteria was strong enough in only 11 of those situations such that it could blacklist the responsible parties. Neither Hamas nor Russia were among those parties that met that criteria and were not included on the list. Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz said he was “disgusted” by the report in a statement released to the medial, while the UNSC debate took place on what would have been the first day of Passover in the US.

Via Dave Pell – Denying Reality: “Even the harshest opponents of Israel’s subsequent military campaign in Gaza acknowledge, albeit often half-heartedly, that Hamas acted with brutality on October 7 in killing innocents. But many of those same critics refuse to acknowledge the widespread sexual assaults against Israeli women that day.” (They also refuse to consider what’s happening to the hostages.) Michael A. Cohen in The Atlantic (Gift Article): The Rape Denialists.

Times of Israel, April 9, 2024Freed Gaza hostage says she was abducted by armed civilians, sold to Hamas. Touring Europe to raise awareness of captives, Nili Margalit tells French magazine she used her expertise as a nurse to care for other captives in brutal conditions.

The New York Times, Brett Stephens, April 30, 2024. Sheryl Sandberg Screams Back at the Silence: There is a scene in “Screams Before Silence,” the harrowing documentary about the rape and mutilation of Israeli women on Oct. 7, that I can’t get out of my head. It’s an interview that the former Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg, the documentary’s presenter, conducted with Ayelet Levy Sachar, the mother of 19-year-old Naama Levy, whose kidnapping that morning was filmed by Hamas. The sight of her pajama bottoms, drenched in blood at the back, was one of the earliest indications that sexual brutality was part of Hamas’s playbook…A third point that goes beyond Israel: Sexual violence has always been a tool of war. But widespread awareness of it, along with an international determination to stop it, really started only in the 1990s with the horrors in the Balkans and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The giant shrug with which the rape of Israeli women is being met suggests that time may be over. What starts with the Jews, as the saying goes, never ends with the Jews.

Posted on Twitter, April 3, 2024. Amit Soussana was violently dragged from her home in Kfar Aza and kidnapped to Gaza. Her captor kept her chained in a dark room for weeks and then sexually assaulted her at gunpoint. This is her testimony. Screams Before Silence Documentary

View the complete hour long documentary, released on April 26, 2024. Screams Before Silence. Also via YouTube.

Warning this is shocking, deeply disturbing, sickening.  See also this video taken on October 7, 2023 of young people, women and men, brutally murdered and then burned.

The Wrap Pro, April 1, 2024. The ‘Tectonic Shift’ in Media That Changed Perceptions of Israel: ‘What’s Left Is a System Run by Activists’ “The press has been gutted. The bureaus have shrunk, and into that vacuum have come ideological voices,” says Matti Friedman. “…Examples of this shift abound. A 7,000-word piece in The Intercept cast doubt on a New York Times investigation into the sexual assault and mutilation of Israel women by Hamas on Oct. 7; it was clearly aimed at undermining the credibility of the reporting. Early in the war the Times and others reported that Israel deliberately shelled al-Ahli hospital in Gaza City, allegedly killing hundreds — based on information provided by the Hamas-run Health Ministry — and later learning that it was almost certainly an errant shell from a Gazan military group which killed a small fraction of that number. (Google this and you still cannot get any kind of straight answer.)

The New York Sun, March 10, 2024. Lawsuit Filed in U.S. Over Role of UN’s Palestinian Relief Organization in the October 7 Massacre by Hamas. The federal lawsuit, filed in Delaware on Friday, seeks to provide accountability for Unrwa’s involvement in the massacres that Hamas members perpetrated on October 7 in Israel.

Jewish Journal Dispatch from Israel March, 2024. Shattered: There is no word in the psychological lexicon for what happened on Oct. 7 or the new world in which Israelis now live. But “shattered” comes closer than “trauma.”  When Israelis speak about Oct. 7, they frequently say “there are no words.” But one word they consistently use is “shattered.” Israeli psychologists have been treating severe trauma, complex trauma and collective trauma. The word “trauma,” however, fails to convey the scale, the savagery or the sadism of events that day. The term does not encompass the complex mix of disorientation, anguish, emotional overload and the experience of utter brokenness after the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust.

The New York Times, March 5, 2024. The New Rape Denialism – “On Oct. 7, Hamas invaded Israel and filmed itself committing scores of human-rights atrocities. Some of the footage was later captured by the Israeli military and screened to hundreds of journalists, including me. The “pure, predatory sadism,” as Atlantic writer Graeme Wood described it, is bottomless. Yet Hamas denies that its men sexually assaulted Israelis, calling the charges “lies and slanders against the Palestinians and their resistance.” And Hamas’s fellow travelers and useful idiots in the West, most of them self-described progressives, parrot that denialism in the face of powerful and deeply investigated evidence of widespread rapes, documented most recently in a United Nations report released on Monday. The interesting question is, why? Why the refusal to believe that Hamas, which butchered children in their beds, took elderly women as hostages and incinerated families in their homes, would be capable of that? I’ll get to that in a moment, but first it’s worth looking at the forms this denialism takes. One method is to acknowledge, as one recent article put it, that “sexual assault may have occurred on Oct. 7,” but nobody has really proved that it was part of an organized pattern. Another is to raise questions about various details in stories to suggest that if there’s even a single error, or a witness whose testimony is at all inconsistent, the entire account must also be false and dishonest. A third is to treat anything an Israeli says as inherently suspect. And finally, there is the point that there are barely any witnesses to the assaults. Where are the women who were allegedly raped? Why aren’t they speaking out. The answer to that final question is the grimmest: Overwhelmingly, the women who could have spoken out are dead..”

Posted in: Civil Liberties, Criminal Law, International Legal Research, Legal Research