Witnesses Confirm Rape, Beheadings, ‘Systematic Genital Mutilation’ by Hamas

Witnesses Confirm Rape, Beheadings, ‘Systematic Genital Mutilation’ by Hamas


Demonstrators outside United Nations headquarters in New York City, December 4, 2023(Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images)

‘Everything was an apocalypse of corpses,’ one official said, as Israel challenged the U.N.’s silence about Hamas’s crimes.

Witnesses to the brutal aftermath of Hamas’s October 7 terrorist attack presented new, graphic testimony about the group’s widespread use of rape, at a United Nations event today organized by Israel’s mission to the body — one of the most extensive public presentations on those, and other, atrocities yet.

This took place against the backdrop of a rapidly unfurling backlash against the U.N.’s laggard approach to acknowledging Hamas’s use of rape on October 7, with UN Women only condemning the assaults in a statement following public criticism and an interview in which an official struggled to unequivocally condemn the terrorist group. Last week, U.N. secretary-general António Guterres said in a statement on X that accounts of Hamas’s sexual violence need to be “vigorously investigated and prosecuted.”

Meanwhile, the Israeli authorities have deepened their investigation into sexual violence perpetrated by Hamas during the massacre. Hamas’s sexual crimes might also have played a role in its decision to break the cease-fire with Israel, with State Department spokesman Matthew Miller saying today that Hamas appears have chosen not to hand over several female hostages because “they don’t want those women to be able to talk about what happened to them.”

During today’s event, individuals directly involved in tending to the bodies of Hamas victims gave testimony about their experiences, and Israeli officials played videos featuring interrogations of Hamas fighters who acknowledged that members of the group raped victims and an interview with a woman who witnessed rape at the Nova music festival.

Yael Richert, chief superintendent of the Israeli Police’s Lahav 433 unit, described some of the horrifying testimony that her colleagues have gathered so far. Referring to an interview with a survivor of the Nova music festival, she said: “Everything was an apocalypse of corpses. Girls without any clothes on, without tops, without underwear. People cut in half, butchered, some were beheaded.

“There were girls with a broken pelvis, due to repetitive rapes. Their legs were spread wide apart in a split.” Other survivors said that girls were pulled out of shelters, raped, then burned.

She also cited a police officer as saying that he had to stop his car at one point because there was a baby’s cradle full of blood on the road, with a naked woman lying next to a dead baby. “She was naked, badly injured, bullets in her body.” Richert referred to testimony from numerous other witnesses who saw dead women without underwear.

And Richert played a video from an interview that police conducted with a Nova survivor. That witness said she saw Hamas members shoot at victims’ sexual organs. “They had a thing with sexual organs, both in woman and in man.” In the clips, the witness said she saw a Hamas gunman rape a woman, amputate her breasts, then throw them onto the road.

Shari Mendez, a Jerusalem-based architect by training and IDF reserve morgue staff member involved in preparing the remains of female victims, called the toll of the massacre “unimaginable,” citing the cruelty of the atrocities that she and others witnessed. Mendez said she saw victims who had been shot in several places and speculated that Hamas had deliberately mutilated the faces of some of the victims, based on the facial injuries that she saw.

Mendez said she saw evidence of sexual violence. “Many young women arrived in bloody, shredded rags and just in underwear, and their underwear was often very bloody. Our team commander saw several female soldiers who were shot in the crotch, intimate parts, vagina, or shot in the breast,” she said. “There seemed to be systematic genital mutilation of a group of victims.”

“We saw several severed heads, one with a large kitchen knife still embedded in the neck,” she said, adding that it was challenging to identify charred remains.

Another speaker, Simcha Greiniman from the first-responder group ZAKA, choked up and paused — someone on the dais at the front of the room handed him a glass of water — as he tried to describe what he saw as he walked into one house that had been targeted by Hamas.

“I saw in front of my eyes, a woman, she was naked. She had nails and different objects in her female organs. Her body was [brutalized] in a way that we could not identify her.” Greiniman said a second body in the house was so mutilated that his team could not verify whether it was a man or a woman.

His team went to another house, finding a woman in her bed, half-naked from the waist down. “She was shot through the back of her head. When we turned her around, she had an open grenade in her hand,” he said. “Thank God no one on our team got hurt.”

Several prominent women’s-rights advocates and Democratic politicians, including Sheryl Sandberg, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and Hillary Clinton, kicked off the event, condemning Hamas’s use of rape and the international community’s double standards when it comes to Israel. Gillibrand received a standing ovation when she called on the U.N., which does not consider Hamas a terrorist organization, to condemn it as one.

Two U.N. undersecretaries-general were in the audience, but the Israeli U.N. mission had invited many more senior officials, including Guterres, people familiar with the planning told National Review. Guterres was also not at a screening of footage of Hamas’s atrocities last month, someone familiar with that event said.

Speaking in a brief interview afterward, Israel’s ambassador to the U.N., Gilad Erdan, told NR that the U.S. should “definitely” consider defunding U.N. entities and that he will focus on securing “fundamental reforms” to the organization after the war.

JIMMY QUINN is the national security correspondent for National Review

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