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UN Report Details Israeli War Crimes During First Months of War on Gaza

by | Jun 12, 2024

UN Report Details Israeli War Crimes During First Months of War on Gaza

by | Jun 12, 2024

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The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry (COI) provides a detailed analysis of the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 and the Israeli assault on Gaza. The report finds both sides committed war crimes but concludes there is no evidence to support the claim that Hamas engaged in mass rape during its rampage in southern Israel. The COI found evidence of Israel intentionally killing civilians and Israeli forces engaged in acts of sexual torture. 

The report’s analysis of the events on October 7 concluded Hamas intentionally targeted two dozen civilian targets, leading to hundreds of deaths. The COI found evidence that members of Hamas committed sexual assaults on Israelis, with some female bodies found undressed. 

However, the report debunks the widespread claim that top Israeli and US officials have often repeated that Hamas engaged in mass rape during its attack. “The Commission has reviewed testimonies obtained by journalists and the Israeli police concerning rape but has not been able to independently verify such allegations,” the report says. “Additionally, the Commission found some specific allegations to be false, inaccurate or contradictory with other evidence or statements and discounted these from its assessment.”

While the assertion that Hamas engaged in mass rape on October 7 has been widely discussed in the US media, the Palestinian accusations that Israeli forces have systematically engaged in horrific sexual violence have gone largely unreported. 

The COI found evidence to back the Palestinian claims that Israel is engaging in systemic sexual torture and humiliation. “Based on testimonies and verified video footage and photographs, the Commission finds that sexual violence has been perpetrated throughout the [Israeli enforced] evacuation processes.” The report continues, “Palestinians were made to watch members of their family and community strip in public and walk completely or partially undressed while subjected to sexual harassment.”

The Israeli forces inflicted sexual torture on males, according to the COI. “Males were repeatedly filmed and photographed by soldiers while subjected to forced public stripping and nudity, sexual torture and inhumane or cruel treatment,” the report found. 

The COI concluded that the Israeli forces were authorized or allowed to engage in the sexual abuse. “The Commission concludes that forced public stripping and nudity and other types of abuse by Israeli military personnel were either ordered or condoned.” It adds, “These acts were intended to humiliate and degrade the victims and the Palestinian community at large by perpetuating gender stereotypes that create a sense of shame, subordination, emasculation and inferiority.”

Additionally, the Commission found evidence that Israeli forces have been given the authority to target civilians. “Given information suggesting relatively low numbers of Hamas militants in proportion to the wider civilian population, and given Israel’s repeated assertion that militants are ‘embedded’ within the civilian population,” the authors of the report conclude, “statements indicate that the Israeli Government has given [Israeli Security Forces] blanket authorization to target civilian locations widely and indiscriminately in the Gaza Strip.”

The COI recommends an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, something the White House has resisted over the past eight months. Last month, President Joe Biden unveiled a ceasefire proposal he claimed originated in Tel Aviv. However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has continued to dismiss the idea of a permanent end to the conflict.

The US has significant leverage over Israel and could condition future aid to Tel Aviv on Netanyahu ending the onslaught. Nevertheless, Biden has refused to place any meaningful restriction on arms shipment to Tel Aviv. 

Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone is news editor of the Libertarian Institute, opinion editor of Antiwar.com and co-host of Conflicts of Interest with Will Porter and Connor Freeman.

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