UN Under Scrutiny For Silence on Crimes Against Israeli Women
Six weeks ago, a brutal terror attack carried out by Hamas terrorists in Israel left more than 1,200 people dead and 240 individuals kidnapped and taken back to Gaza. In the wake of this horrific event, women's rights groups and officials in Israel have been working tirelessly to document cases of rape and gender-based atrocities committed by the terrorists. However, they claim that the United Nations has been ignoring their efforts and refusing to acknowledge the evidence they have gathered.
According to Sarah Weiss Maudi, a senior diplomat and legal adviser in Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the U.N.'s silence on the matter is "sickening." Despite sending letters and sharing graphic and descriptive evidence, including disturbing eyewitness testimonies and videos, U.N. bodies such as U.N. Women have not acknowledged the atrocities committed against Israeli women and young girls.
Maudi believes that the U.N.'s lack of response may be due to a belief that Israeli women brought this upon themselves, as they are seen as privileged and living comfortable lives while the Israeli military responds to Hamas's attacks on Gaza. Additionally, there is a bias against Israel and possible intimidation from the U.N's belief in the "Jewish lobby" supporting the victims.
Some have also accused the U.N. of actively questioning whether these acts actually took place. For example, Anne Bayefsky, director of Touro Institute on Human Rights and the Holocaust, claims that the U.N. Women organization blames Israel for the violence and impact on Palestinian women, disregarding the brutal crimes committed by Hamas against Israeli women.
Dr. Cochav Elkayam-Levy, chair of Israel's newly formed Civil Commission on October 7th Crimes by Hamas Against Women, says that the response from international women's organizations has been a "betrayal." Despite providing undeniable evidence, these organizations are now asking for further proof of the atrocities.
Elkayam-Levy recounted a recent incident where she had to present evidence to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) committee, stating, "Never in my life would I imagine that I would be standing in front of this distinguished committee to talk about gender-based war crimes and crimes against humanity committed against Israeli women and girls."
The U.N. Women's spokesperson, however, states that the organization "unequivocally condemns all forms of violence against women and girls" and that an independent commission of inquiry is currently collecting and preserving evidence of war crimes committed by all sides.
Despite this statement, Israeli women's rights groups and officials continue to fight against the international denial of these atrocities and the bias against Israeli women. One director of a sexual assault center in Canada has even signed an open letter disputing the claims of rape and assault, leading to her immediate termination from the university.
The failure of international organizations to acknowledge and condemn these horrendous acts is not only a betrayal of Israeli women, but it also sets a dangerous precedent for the future treatment of women in warzones. As Elkayam-Levy puts it, "The evidence is undeniable. Yet, we find ourselves fighting a dual battle: one against these atrocities and another against global silence."