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Dec 1, 2023 | In The News

Jewish Insider

A bipartisan group of nearly 90 House lawmakers is urging the United Nations’ Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, generally known as UN Women, to speak out against the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel and the sexual violence Hamas attackers committed.

The U.N. has been slow to speak out against and condemn the sexual violence that occurred during the Oct. 7 attack, with particular criticism focused on UN Women. This week, the U.N. posted and then deleted a condemnation of the attack, and an official from UN Women avoided condemning Hamas in a television interview.

Reps. Sheila Cherfilus McCormick (D-FL) and Young Kim (R-CA) led 87 other lawmakers on a letter to UN Women Director Sima Bahous calling for a stronger stance.

“UN Women cannot expect to be viewed as an honest advocate for women’s rights if it continues to ignore Israeli women and women of other nationalities brutalized by Hamas terrorists on October 7th in an attack that claimed the lives of 1200+ Israelis and injured thousands more,” the letter reads. “We call on UN Women to publicly condemn the use of Hamas’ brutal tactics, specifically murder, torture, abduction, rape, and sexual violence.”

The lawmakers accuse the U.N. body of taking a “one sided approach” to Israel and the conflict, highlighting that the body released a report addressing the impact of Israel’s invasion of Gaza on Palestinian women, but not addressing any of the crimes against women committed by Hamas in its attack, nor those women being held hostage by Hamas.

“While we are encouraged that UN Women met with the Israeli Civil Commission of Oct. 7 Crimes by Hamas Against Women and Children, your statement only acknowledges ‘reports’ of alleged crimes against women while neither naming nor condemning Hamas,” the letter continues. “Your disregard and tone deaf response to Hamas’ attack is woefully unsatisfactory and consistent with the UN’s longstanding bias against Israel.”

The letter calls for UN Women to offer a clear condemnation of the Hamas attack and to state “outright” that the body “stands with Israeli women and women of other nationalities who are reeling from the systemic sexual abuse, torture, and mutilation they endured,” warning that a failure to do so would undermine the entity’s credibility.

The lawmakers outline evidence released by Israel of sexual violence by Hamas — allegedly directed by Hamas leaders, according to statements by arrested terrorists — and also highlight efforts to question and deny the attacks. 

Such denial “will ultimately harm the memory of those murdered and raped by Hamas while also delegitimizing international work to prevent violence against vulnerable communities, specifically women and girls,” the lawmakers argued.

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