Senators call for U.N. to open independent probe into Hamas and sexual violence #Senators #call #U.N #open #independent #probe #Hamas #sexual #violence

A bipartisan group of almost three dozen senators is urging the United Nations to open an independent investigation into what it called a “growing body of evidence” that Hamas engaged in sexual violence during its Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

In a letter first shared with NBC News, 33 senators pressed U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres to establish “an independent fact-finding effort” that would collect survivors’ and witnesses’ testimonies.

“An independent investigation is a necessary step to hold perpetrators accountable, support survivors, and provide justice for victims,” the senators wrote in the letter, led by Sens. Jacky Rosen, D-Nev.; Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; and Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Ben Cardin, D-Md.

Israeli officials have accused Hamas of using rape and sexual violence as weapons of war during the October attack, which killed about 1,200 people in Israel. Since then, the death toll in Gaza has surpassed 18,000, according to health officials there.

A U.N. commission of inquiry examining war crimes said late last month it would focus on sexual violence by Hamas and pass along any evidence to the International Criminal Court. Israel has not cooperated with the commission, accusing it of bias.

“Tasking the one-sided [commission of inquiry] to investigate these atrocities undermines the effort’s credibility, creates the strong potential for biased outcomes, and provides no measure of justice for the victims and survivors,” said the letter, which alleges that the commission has “a history of bias and unfairly singling out Israel.”

The senators also accused U.N. Women, an entity dedicated to gender equality and women’s empowerment at the U.N., of failing to quickly condemn the atrocities.

U.N. Women said this month that it “unequivocally” condemned the Hamas attack and related concerns over sexual violence.

“This is why we have called for all accounts of gender-based violence to be duly investigated and prosecuted, with the rights of the victim at the core,” it said.

Hamas has denied that its militants committed sexual crimes against women.

Rosen, a prominent supporter of Israel, said in a statement that more action is needed from the U.N.

“Too many prominent international organizations and leaders have chosen to dismiss, downplay, or outright deny Hamas’s widespread use of sexual violence and rape,” she said. “The UN must acknowledge, forcefully denounce, and independently investigate Hamas’s atrocities.”

#Senators #call #U.N #open #independent #probe #Hamas #sexual #violence

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