An Israel women’s group is alarmed by the failure to preserve evidence of sexual violence during the recent Hamas attacks. The concern is that the failure to properly document these crimes may lead to overlooking the gender-based nature of the violence.
The attacks on October 7 included multiple incidents of sexual assault and rape, vividly captured through Hamas body cameras, social media posts, and images taken by civilians and first responders.
Shocking survivor testimonies, especially from the Supernova rave, depict instances of women enduring sexual violence before facing fatal outcomes.
According to The Guardian, while the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have compiled a 40-minute war crimes reel, the most distressing material remains unreleased, citing its graphic nature and the need to preserve victims’ dignity.
The concern among women’s rights groups is that insufficient investigative work was done before victims’ bodies were returned for funerals, contributing to a potential underreporting of gender-based violence in the media.
Tal Hochman from the Israel Women’s Network emphasizes the gravity of the situation, stating, “Most women who were raped were then killed, and we will never understand the full picture because either bodies were burned too badly or the victims were buried without any forensic evidence being taken.”
Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth suggests that evidence from over 20 locations in southern Israel has not been documented before burial.
The lack of coordination among investigating organizations and allowing people to return to attack sites prematurely has further complicated the collection of crucial evidence.
The absence of a cohesive evidence collection system raises concerns that we may never obtain a comprehensive account of the violence, potentially hindering justice in international legal forums.
In the aftermath of the attacks, Israel is collecting visual, digital, and forensic evidence for war crimes and crimes against humanity. This evidence will be shared with the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for its ongoing investigation into alleged war crimes in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
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