Israel says United Nations trying to 'keep quiet' report on Hamas sexual attacks

  • 05/03/2024
Israel Foreign Minister Israel Katz.
Israel Foreign Minister Israel Katz. Photo credit: Reuters

Israel's foreign minister said on Monday (local time) he has recalled the country's UN ambassador for consultations over alleged attempts by the United Nations to "keep quiet" a report on sexual violence perpetrated by Hamas, an allegation denied by the organisation.

"I ordered our ambassador to the UN, Gilad Erdan, to return to Israel for immediate consultations regarding the attempt to keep quiet the serious UN report on the mass rapes committed by Hamas and its helpers on Oct. 7," Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in a statement.

Katz criticised UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres for not convening the security council to discuss the findings and in order to declare Hamas a terrorist organisation.

The UN special envoy on sexual violence in conflict, Pramila Patten, on Monday presented the report, which said there were "reasonable grounds to believe" sexual violence, including rape and gang rape, occurred at several locations during the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants.

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said that Guterres "has fully supported" Patten's work in her visit to Israel "to look into conflict related acts of sexual violence linked to the 7 October terror attacks. The work was done thoroughly and expeditiously".

"In no way, shape or form did the Secretary-General do anything to keep the report 'quiet'. In fact, the report is being presented publicly today," Dujarric said.

In a separate statement, Israeli ambassador Erdan said: "It took the UN five months to finally recognize the shocking sexual crimes committed during the Hamas attack."

"Now that the report on the sexual atrocities and sexual abuse that our hostages in Gaza are going through, the shameful silence by the UN that is not holding even one discussion on the issue screams to the heavens," he said.