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UN-ACCEPTABLE

Senators condemn U.N. response to sexual violence in Hamas attack

The lawmakers called for an independent investigative body to probe Hamas’ use of sexual violence

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks to the media at the UNFCCC COP28 Climate Conference as negotiations go into their final phase on December 11, 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Sean Gallup/Getty Images

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks to the media at the UNFCCC COP28 Climate Conference as negotiations go into their final phase on December 11, 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

More than 30 senators wrote to the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Monday to condemn the body, and its UN Women agency, for their failure to promptly respond to and condemn sexual violence by Hamas during its Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

“We write to express our profound disappointment with the United Nations’ (UN) response to Hamas’s widespread sexual violence, including rape and mutilation, as a weapon of war against women in Israel on October 7, 2023,” the letter reads. “The UN’s delay in denouncing Hamas’s sexual violence and rape on October 7 is a moral failure.”

The lawmakers call on the U.N. to launch an independent investigation into sexual violence by Hamas, as well as to hold UN Women “accountable for its failure to immediately and unequivocally condemn Hamas’s brutal use of sexual violence.”

UN Women’s slow and “halfhearted” response to the attack, which did not mention Hamas and included “no meaningful steps to provide support to the Israeli survivors of sexual violence… undermines its legitimacy and contributes to the outrageous effort by some to dismiss, downplay, or outright deny these atrocities,” the letter continues.

The letter was led by Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ben Cardin (D-MD).

The lawmakers also raised “serious concerns” about the decision to task the U.N.’s Commission of Inquiry on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, long seen by lawmakers as corrupt and biased against Israel, with investigating Hamas’ sexual violence.

“Tasking the one-sided COI 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,” the letter reads.

Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Katie Britt (R-AL), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), James Risch (R-ID), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Bob Casey (D-PA), Mike Crapo (R-ID), John Fetterman (D-PA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), James Lankford (R-OK), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Rick Scott (R-FL), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Tim Scott (R-SC), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Bill Hagerty (R-TN), Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) also signed.

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