Accurate, Focused Research on Law, Technology and Knowledge Discovery Since 2002

Gender-Based Violence as a Weapon of War during the October 7 Hamas Attack

Physicians for Human Rights Israel (PHRI) – preliminary report, November 26, 2023. “As time goes on, a fuller picture of what transpired during Hamas’ October 7, 2023, assault on the communities of the Gaza Envelope is beginning to emerge. It is becoming more apparent that the violence perpetrated against women, men, and children also included widespread sexual and gender-based crimes. While the full scale of the assault is yet to be uncovered, we consider it essential to present the information currently known to us. We have chosen to do so for several reasons. First and foremost, to encourage the reporting and documentation of these severe violations of international humanitarian law and fundamental moral principles, to advocate for international condemnation and sanctions against the perpetrators, and to prevent their recurrence. Secondly, to support the survivors and those who will hopefully still survive. Social and institutional recognition of the experiences of survivors is crucial to their capacity to describe what they endured. We hope that providing such recognition also promotes the allocation of social, professional, and financial resources to facilitate the conditions for their healing. Lastly, the publication of this position paper aims to bring attention to the urgent need to release the hostages still being held in Gaza. Those among them who endured or witnessed sexual and gender-based crimes face a higher risk of experiencing further violence and neglect while being denied vital physical and mental medical care. The increased danger to their well-being compels us to utilize all available means to promote their release from captivity and safe return. It is important to note that this position paper2 does not attempt or aim to meet legal thresholds. Past experience has shown that survivors of sexual assault are only able to speak, if ever, after sufficient time has passed. As a human rights organization, our role is to validate and voice the experiences of those who endured sexual and gender-based violence – even if they are no longer here to do so themselves. Therefore, this document cautiously outlines the currently available information while citing all sources used and working with the understanding that we still do not possess a complete account of the events. The information published to date is only partial, both due to a lack of systematic analysis of the findings for forensic evidence of sexual abuse and due to the conditions of some of the victims’ bodies, their quantity, and the urgency of identifying and evacuating them – sometimes under fire. It is also likely that much of the documentation has not been officially published for additional reasons, including privacy concerns. Based on the currently available information and the accounts indicating that sexual and gender-based violence occurred across several locations, an inquiry must be conducted to examine whether their scope and manifestations amount to crimes against humanity under international humanitarian law. However, the primary goal of this document is to highlight the importance of ensuring health care system preparedness for adequate, holistic, and adapted treatment for the survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.”

Sorry, comments are closed for this post.