((JEWISH REVIEW)) — Following weeks of pressure on the United Nations to condemn Hamas for reported sexual violence during its Oct. 7 attack on Israel, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres urged an investigation into the allegations in a statement on social media.
“There are numerous accounts of sexual violence during the abhorrent acts of terror by Hamas on 7 October that must be vigorously investigated and prosecuted,” Guterres wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “Gender-based violence must be condemned. Anytime. Anywhere.”
Guterres’ comments, his first call for such an investigation, come nearly eight weeks after reports of sexual violence on Oct. 7 first emerged. He posted them two days after backlash over an Instagram post by an arm of the U.N. that condemned Hamas, but was deleted within an hour. That post by U.N. Women — an official entity of the U.N. focused on promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment — was replaced with a statement calling for the release of the Israeli hostages held captive in Gaza, with no mention of the terror group.
Since the attack, Israeli police, military investigators, and emergency responders have gathered testimony from those who witnessed sexual assault on Oct. 7 and also documented evidence of the assaults from the bodies of some of those who died, the Times of Israel reported.
Israeli police also have video evidence, testimony from interrogations, and photographs of victims’ bodies that suggest sexual assault took place on Oct. 7, according to the Times of Israel.
A number of pro-Israel accounts with large followings on X took Guterres to task for waiting more than 50 days to call for an investigation. Broadly, Israeli and Jewish women activists have called for more widespread condemnation of sexual violence committed during Hamas’ attack, and have castigated what they say is a double standard against Israeli women.
Those critics include Sheryl Sandberg, the former COO of Meta, who last week wrote an op-ed criticizing women’s groups for their silence on the subject, alomg with a group of entrepreneurs who created a campaign and petition called “Me Too UNless Ur a Jew.”
On Oct. 27, the U.N. General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, but voted down a provision that condemned the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attacks. Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, held a session Monday on crimes against humanity committed against women during the Oct. 7 massacre.