Nearly 150 lawmakers to introduce bipartisan resolution condemning Hamas sexual violence

The resolution, led by Rep. Lois Frankel, has sponsors crossing political boundaries, including lawmakers who have been deeply critical of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza and are supporting a cease-fire

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Rep. Lois Frankel (D-FL) speaks during a news conference to celebrate the passage of legislation that will place statues of former Supreme Court associate justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sandra Day O’ Connor in the U.S. Capitol on May 12, 2022, in Washington, D.C.

A bipartisan group of nearly 150 House lawmakers is set to introduce a resolution on Tuesday condemning the sexual violence committed by Hamas terrorists on and since the Oct. 7 attacks, the latest move by lawmakers seeking justice and accountability for victims of sexual violence and other crimes by terror group.

The legislation, led by Reps. Lois Frankel (D-FL), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Kathy Manning (D-NC) and Jen Kiggans (R-VA), summarizes the reports and photographic, video and forensic evidence of sexual violence by eyewitnesses, hostages and survivors. 

It condemns “all rape and forms of sexual violence as weapons of war, including those acts committed by Hamas terrorists on and since October 7th,” calls on “all international bodies” to condemn such actions, expresses U.S. support for investigations of these attacks and emphasizes Congress’ support for the survivors of Hamas’ crimes.

The resolution’s co-sponsors — 79 Democrats and 67 Republicans — include some of the lawmakers who have been deeply critical of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza and are supporting a cease-fire.

“This resolution really adds Congress’ voice to supporting the survivors, to supporting an investigation and unequivocally condemning Hamas terrorists for murder, rapes, sexual assault and kidnapping,” Frankel told Jewish Insider, “and of course asks that all perpetrators be held accountable.”

Frankel said she was “very happy” for the broad bipartisan support that the resolution had garnered.

“This is going to be the first of what I hope will be bipartisan effort, especially by women — and then I hope it’s the women of the world — to say that rape and sexual violence as a tool or weapon of war is not acceptable, it is morally unacceptable,” she continued. “It is inhumane and it should be criminalized in every sector… it’s got to be a universal crime.”

The resolution also notes that some international bodies — notably the United Nations, although it’s not named in the resolution — had “been slow to condemn Hamas[‘] brutal actions on October 7th, and in some cases, failed to explicitly mention instances of sexual and gender-based violence against women.” 

A bipartisan group of 87 lawmakers sent a letter last month condemning the U.N.’s slow action on the issue.

Going forward, Frankel said that passing the emergency aid bill to provide additional support to Israel, as well as continued vocal moral support for the victims of Hamas’ sexual violence, will be critical steps to addressing those crimes.

She described the resolution as the first step in a broader campaign by herself and fellow lawmakers, including members of the Women, Peace and Security Caucus, to focus on wartime sexual violence in Israel and elsewhere; the campaign includes a caucus task force and a summit in Japan later this year.

“This is something that’s bigger than just the United States and Israel,” she said. “This is something that women just have to say, ‘We’re not going to take it anymore.’”

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