An Israeli organization that supports survivors of sexual abuse released a report on Wednesday that concluded that acts of sexual violence against Israelis during and after the Hamas-led attack on Oct. 7 were “systematic and widespread.”

“The report finds that the Hamas attack included brutal acts of violent rape, often involving threats with weapons, specifically directed towards injured women,” said the group, The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, an umbrella organization of nine such organizations in Israel. The report added that many incidents involved gang rape.

“Often, the rape was perpetrated in front of an audience — partners, family or friends — in a manner intended to increase the pain and humiliation of all present,” the report said.

The attackers “cut and mutilated sexual organs and other body parts with knives,” the report said.

The report asserted that its information and analysis “clearly demonstrates that sexual abuse was not an isolated incident or sporadic cases but rather a clear operational strategy.”

Based on analysis of the information collected by the organization, the report concluded that sex crimes were committed against people at a rave site, in kibbutzim and at military bases and against hostages held in Gaza.

The report was based on testimonies, interviews with first responders and articles, including a monthslong investigation published by The New York Times in late December, which documented a pattern of gender-based violence in the Hamas-led Oct. 7 attack.

Hamas has repeatedly denied that its fighters perpetrated sexual violence on Oct. 7. For instance, three days after the Times investigation was published, Hamas said in a statement that the group’s leaders “categorically deny such allegations” and called it a part of Israel’s attempt to justify the killing of Palestinian civilians.

Hamas has maintained that its fighters’ “religion, values and culture” forbid such acts, and that, as Muslims, they are “honor-bound to respect and protect all women.” The group has said it welcomes any international inquiries into allegations of sexual violence.

Israeli activists and their allies have expressed frustration at international organizations like the United Nations for slow responses to reports of sexual violence as part of the Oct. 7 attack. In late January, a U.N. team visited Israel to examine these reports, led by Pramila Patten, the U.N. secretary-general’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict.

Orit Sulitzeanu, the executive director of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, said in a news release that the report was submitted to decision makers at the U.N. “Silence is no longer an option,” she said. “We expect international organizations to take a clear stance; we cannot stand on the sidelines.”



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