THE WORLD

The UN says Hamas committed sexual violence in Israel on October 7

The UN team visited Israel between 29 January and 14 February. According to the report, 33 meetings were held with Israeli representatives and more than 5000 photographic images as well as 50 hours of video footage were examined.

(BBC) - A UN team has stated that based on the evidence collected, members of Hamas who attacked Israel on October 7 committed rape.

They said they had convincing information that the hostages had been subjected to sexual violence.

Hamas has denied that gunmen sexually assaulted women during the attacks.

"The team found that there are strong reasons to believe that sexual violence occurred in multiple locations during the October 7 attacks," the UN report said. "It is believed that there were violations in the place where the Nova music festival was held and in its surroundings, Road 232 and Kibbutz Re'im".

Hamas gunmen swept into southern Israel on October 7, killing an estimated 1200 people and taking 253 hostages.

Israel responded by launching a military campaign in Gaza that has killed 30.500 people, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry.

Reports of sexual violence perpetrated by Hamas - which has been designated a terrorist organization by Israel, the UK and other countries - began to emerge shortly after October 7 and have steadily piled up since then.

In the report, the UN said it had "found clear and convincing information that sexual violence, including rape, sexual torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment was committed against the hostages".

He also said that "there is reason to believe that such violence may be ongoing against those still held captive."

The UN team visited Israel between 29 January and 14 February.

According to the report, 33 meetings were held with Israeli representatives and more than 5000 photographic images and 50 hours of video footage were examined.

Some allegations of rape and sexual violence were "baseless," the report explained, including the graphic case of a pregnant woman whose abdomen was reportedly ripped open and her fetus stabbed. Other reports could not be verified due to limited imagery, the UN said.

"Israel welcomes the final recognition that Hamas committed sexual crimes," said Lior Haiat, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, in response to the report's release.

He added that Israel is now "calling for the immediate meeting of the Security Council in order to designate Hamas as a terrorist organization and impose international sanctions on it."

However, Haiat dismissed the UN team's report that it had also received information about sexual violence against Palestinian men and women in detention facilities, during house raids and at checkpoints after 7 October.

"This is a mocking and deliberate Palestinian maneuver that aims to create an intolerable equivalence between the terrible crimes that have been and continue to be committed by Hamas and the malicious and baseless claims made against Israel and Israelis," he said.

Israel has rejected similar accusations made earlier by an independent panel of UN experts, calling them "abhorrent and baseless".

Haiat also said Israel rejected a recommendation made in the report that the country cooperate with the UN's International Commission of Inquiry, which is trying to conduct an investigation into possible war crimes by all sides.

He described the investigation as hostile to Israel.

Meanwhile, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz on Monday recalled the country's ambassador to the UN for "consultations", accusing the organization of "attempting to silence the grave UN report on mass rape".

He criticized UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres for not meeting the Security Council to discuss the findings and to declare Hamas a terrorist organization.