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Fresh appeal for hostages to be released as humanitarian “catastrophe” in Gaza worsens

A new report states that “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”, may be continuing against those still being held by Hamas and other extremists in the Gaza Strip

By: EBR - Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2024

What we found in our research was that the Hamas terrorists have conducted intentional, brutal, sadistic and systematic crimes in the terror scenes - the Nova party, the little villages- and in captivity. These are horrific crimes against humanity and no one can stay silent. Denial of these crimes gives legitimisation to these atrocities.”
What we found in our research was that the Hamas terrorists have conducted intentional, brutal, sadistic and systematic crimes in the terror scenes - the Nova party, the little villages- and in captivity. These are horrific crimes against humanity and no one can stay silent. Denial of these crimes gives legitimisation to these atrocities.”

by Martin Banks

A new report states that “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”, may be continuing against those still being held by Hamas and other extremists in the Gaza Strip. This is the view of a United Nations team of experts which says, “the true extent of sexual violence committed during the 7 October attacks and their aftermath could take months or years to emerge and may never be fully known.” The team was led by Pramila Patten and follows a 17-day visit to Israel that found “clear and convincing information of rape and sexualized torture being committed against hostages seized during the 7 October attacks.

Details of the report were disseminated at a press conference at Brussels-Europe press club on 20 March which featured Prof. Yifat Bitton, Israeli Law Professor and Activist, and Orit Sulitzeanu, CEO of the association of Rape and Crisis Centres in Israel (ARCCI). Sulitzeanu said, “The Association of Rape Crisis Centres in Israel has written a thorough report about the atrocities conducted by the Hamas. What we found in our research was that the Hamas terrorists have conducted intentional, brutal, sadistic and systematic crimes in the terror scenes - the Nova party, the little villages- and in captivity. These are horrific crimes against humanity and no one can stay silent. Denial of these crimes gives legitimisation to these atrocities.”

The Brussels press briefing was told there had been a “deafening silence” from the international community and organisations following the “welcomed and important” UN report by Patten. Her visit to Israel was at the invitation of the Israeli Government which included a visit to the occupied West Bank, between 29 January and 14 February. In the context of the coordinated attack by Hamas and others of 7 October, the UN mission team found that there are “reasonable grounds to believe that conflict-related sexual violence occurred in multiple locations, including rape and gang rape in at least three locations in southern Israel.”

The report said that it also found a pattern of victims - mostly women – “found fully or partially naked, bound and shot across multiple locations which may be indicative of some forms of sexual violence”. In some locations the mission said it could not verify reported incidents of rape. The mission made up of Patten and nine experts conducted 33 meetings with Israeli representatives, examining more than 5,000 photographic images and 50 hours of video footage. It conducted 34 confidential interviews including with survivors and witnesses of the 7 October attacks, released hostages, first responders and other

The Special Representative has called for a humanitarian ceasefire and urged any ceasefire agreement to acknowledge the importance of recognising sexual violence as a key issue and to allow affected communities to be heard. Separately, US Secretary of State Blinken says Gaza’s two million people are experiencing "severe levels of acute food insecurity" and he called on Israel to prioritise providing for those in need. UN agencies have said north Gaza could face famine by May without a pause in the fighting and a surge in aid. It is believed the war has pushed 85 percent of Gaza’s population into displacement amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine while 60 percent of the enclave’s infrastructure has been destroyed or damaged, according to the UN.

Meanwhile, at a separate event in Brussels, organised by the Europe Israel Press Association (EIPA), Israel’s ambassador to the European Union and NATO, Haim Regev said, “We are not against humanitarian pauses. We are willing to stop the war but we want to see the hostages back home.” He was speaking at a recent press conference with a delegation of family members of several of the 134 Israeli hostages still detained in Gaza since October 7. “We can stop at any moment, they just need to release those hostages,” Regev added.

The families had travelled to the EU capital last month to stress that time is running out and to call on Europe to help “get the hostages out of hell.” They raised the issue during meetings with members of the European parliament and officials from EU member states. They pleaded with the European Union and the broader international community “not to give up on their loved ones and to continue to wield their diplomatic influence to secure their liberation.”

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