Al-Quds Al-Arabi: I met four liberated Palestinian women who were subjected to sexual violence Al-Quds Al-Arabi: I met four liberated Palestinian women who were subjected to sexual violence

Al-Quds Al-Arabi: I met four liberated Palestinian women who were subjected to sexual violence

Al-Quds Al-Arabi: I met four liberated Palestinian women who were subjected to sexual violence

United Nations : At the invitation of the Israeli Government, Pramila Patten, Advisor on Sexual Violence in Conflict, and her accompanying team completed a two-and-a-half-week visit to Israel and the occupied West Bank, most of which was spent in Israel.

On Monday, Patten said in a press conference at the United Nations headquarters that she had found clear and convincing information that sexual violence, including rape, sexual torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, had been committed against the hostages. It stated that it had reasonable grounds to believe that such violence may still be committed against those who remain detained.

Patten led a team of technical experts on this visit, which she said was not an official investigation, from January 29 to February 14, with the aim of “collecting, analyzing and verifying allegations of conflict-related sexual violence during the Hamas-led attacks on October 7.” October and beyond.”

She said that the team also visited Ramallah in the occupied West Bank to communicate with the Palestinian Authority, released detainees, civil society and other stakeholders. Given the ongoing hostilities, the team did not request to visit the Gaza Strip, where other UN bodies operate, including those that monitor and address sexual and gender-based violence.

Mrs. Patten was subjected to a torrent of questions from journalists, raising the question of the purpose of the visit, since it was not an investigation.

Al-Quds Al-Arabi raised a number of questions, especially the issue of the neutrality of the report issued by Patten’s office, the time she spent in the occupied West Bank compared to the time she spent in Israel, and whether she met many of the Israeli women who were released from Gaza, and they spoke about Hassan. The treatment they received, especially the one who left with her dog in her hands, and the other who said that the fighters protected them with their bodies and brought them medicine and mineral water, in contrast to the Palestinian female prisoners whom Patten met and listened to their suffering, including Ahed Tamimi, who emerged broken from detention.

Al-Quds Al-Arabi asked: “There is no purpose in your report except to confirm the Israeli narrative about rape.” Then why, Mrs. Patten, did you not express even a word of sympathy for more than one hundred thousand victims, including dead, wounded and buried, and the displacement of about two million people in Gaza? Not a single word?” Patten replied: “As for the distribution of time, I stayed in Israel for a week between January 29 and February 4. I spent one day in Ramallah. I was not forced to go to the occupied Palestinian territories. Time is dictated by the purpose of the visit. The purpose of the visit to Israel is to collect information because there are no international agencies doing this work. The United Nations was required to verify the information received from the Israeli side. We have collected information on our part for input into the Secretary-General's report, which he issues at the end of April each year. We have ways to collect information. As for the hostages I met, I cannot reveal that because my meeting with them was secret and I am not permitted to reveal who I met. I reviewed the report sent to the Secretary-General with the aim of maintaining the confidentiality of communications, and this is my right. I found information worth believing. I also met with four Palestinian female detainees who were recently released and heard disturbing reports from them that I mentioned in the report, including threats of rape.”

Al-Quds Al-Arabi continued on the issue that this report is not an investigation, and that Patten proposes that an investigation be conducted by the Independent Investigation Team on the Occupied Territories and Israel: “Will Israel allow Ms. Navi Pillay, head of the team, to visit the occupied territory and conduct an independent investigation?” She said: “I “I am aware of the situation, so my first recommendation to the Israeli government was to allow the independent investigation team to operate freely there.”

The report seemed to raise questions and doubts about its credibility. Is it an investigation or information gathering? Patten said there were at least two reports that turned out to be incorrect, such as the report about a pregnant woman's uterus being cut off. She said that the invitation came to her personally because of the pressures of civil society in Israel.

A press statement issued by Patten’s office said, “In the context of coordinated attacks by Hamas and other armed groups against civilian and military targets throughout the Gaza envelope, the mission team found reasonable grounds to believe that conflict-related sexual violence occurred in several locations during the October 7 attacks.” , including rape and gang rape in at least 3 locations: the Nova Music Festival site and its surrounding area, Route 232, and Kibbutz Ra’im.”

The statement stated that in most of these incidents, the victims who were first raped were subsequently killed, and that at least two incidents related to the rape of women's bodies. He added that the team also found a pattern among the victims, most of whom were women who were found completely or partially naked and shot in multiple locations. Although the pattern is circumstantial, the statement said, it may be indicative of some type of sexual violence, including sexual torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.”

In general, the team believes that knowing the truth about the spread of sexual violence during the October 7 attacks and their aftermath may take months or years and may not be fully known.

In the West Bank, the team heard the views and concerns of Palestinian officials and civil society representatives regarding allegations of conflict-related sexual violence following 7 October, allegedly involving Israeli security forces and settlers.

According to the statement, concerns were raised during those meetings about the use of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment towards Palestinians in detention, including various forms of sexual violence in the form of body searches (private), threats of rape, and being forced to strip naked for long periods, in addition to harassment. Sexual assault, including threats of rape during home invasions and at checkpoints. Patten denied that there were reports of the rape of two Palestinian detainees.

The statement said that this information will complement what has already been documented by other international bodies regarding allegations of sexual violence during the conflict in Gaza and the occupied West Bank, for possible inclusion in the Secretary-General’s annual report on sexual violence during the conflict.

Regarding the recommendations, UN representative Pramila Patten encouraged the government of Israel to allow access to the United Nations Human Rights Office and the International Independent Commission to Investigate the Occupied Palestinian Territory - including East Jerusalem - and in Israel, to conduct full independent investigations into all allegations of violations to complete and deepen the findings. I sent her to her. Patten called on Hamas to immediately and unconditionally release all detained individuals and ensure their protection, including from sexual violence.

Pramila Patten reiterated the calls of the Secretary-General of the United Nations for a humanitarian ceasefire, and urged the use of expertise in the field of addressing sexual violence during conflicts, in order to provide information for the design and implementation of all political and ceasefire-related agreements. She stressed the need to listen to the voices of women and affected communities in all conflict resolution and peacebuilding processes.

Patten affirmed her sympathy and solidarity with all civilians affected by the brutal violence in the region since the October 7 attacks, and urged a sustainable return to the path of peace.

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