Hadassah Hosts Briefing on Hamas’ War Crimes, Including Sexual Violence; Mobilizes Nearly 130,000 Individuals and Nearly 120 Organizations to Demand UN Secretary-General Hold Hamas Accountable

Tuesday, March 12, 2024

Media Contact:
Lilly Freemyer

NEW YORK, NY — Today, Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, the largest Jewish women’s organization in the United States, held an event during the UN Commission on the Status of Women meetings to highlight both the irrefutable evidence that Hamas and its collaborators committed war crimes, including rape, during their October 7 attack and the UN’s slow and disingenuous response to holding Hamas accountable.

Subsequently, Hadassah National President Carol Ann Schwartz delivered a petition signed by 129,859 Hadassah supporters from 118 countries and a letter signed by 116 organizations to UN Secretary-General António Guterres demanding action, justice and accountability.

“Rape should never be used as a weapon of war. Not in Israel. Not anywhere. We cannot let our international institutions undermine efforts to pursue justice. UN Women denied our request to speak about this issue during Commission on the Status of Women meetings, but we will not be silent. For the sake of women everywhere, we must come together around the world to speak the truth and demand action,” said Schwartz. “Thank you to the global community of nearly 130,000 individuals and 116 organizations who are standing up to end the silence on this important issue.”

At the event, Schwartz spoke about Hadassah’s End The Silence campaign and historic global mobilization, which marked International Women’s Day last Friday, March 8, when 189 End The Silence events were held in 23 cities in 17 countries around the world, including the United States.

“Let’s be clear,” said Schwartz. “The UN’s current recommendation that the biased, antisemitic Commission of Inquiry (COI) established May 2021 be the primary group investigating these crimes can only be interpreted as a disingenuous move designed to bury evidence and undermine justice.”

Dr. Cochav Elkayam-Levy, Chair of the Civil Commission on October 7 Crimes by Hamas against Women and Children, discussed her group’s efforts to comprehensively document the evidence of Hamas’ war crimes against humanity on October 7, including the brutal acts of rape and sexual violence, and to determine the path needed to pursue justice.

“The denial and silence from the world’s most vital international human rights bodies constitutes a betrayal not just of Israeli women, but of all humanity. To confront this, we are committed to meticulously documenting every detail through a comprehensive legal framework and rigorous global standards. Our aim is to fight denial and to ensure accountability for the perpetrators,” said Dr. Elkayam-Levy.

Marie-Sarah Seeberger, Head of International Affairs at Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France (Crif), spoke about her work to bring the sexual violence that occurred on October 7 to the attention of the French government. Céline Bardet, Founder of We are NOT Weapons of War, spoke about her work to fight sexual violence linked to armed conflict.

“I have borne witness to sexual violence used as a weapon of war all over the world, and it is a war crime that should be vigorously prosecuted everywhere. Israel is no different,” said Bardet. “We will continue to gather and process evidence of Hamas’ war crimes in order to seek justice for the Israeli women and girls they brutalized.”

The international community’s silence in the face of irrefutable evidence of Hamas’ savage war crimes legitimizes rape and the use of rape as a weapon of war — a setback for women and girls around the world that emboldens bad actors and perpetuates women’s fear of coming forward and being believed.

The 129,859 signatures on the petition came from 118 countries including, Albania, Andorra, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Bermuda, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Cayman Islands, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Curaçao, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Gibraltar, Greece, Guatemala, Guernsey, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, North Macedonia, Northern Ireland, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Polynesia, Portugal, Republic of South Africa, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Romania, Russia, Rwanda, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Suriname, Sweden, Switzerland, Tanzania, Thailand, The Bahamas, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Uruguay, United States of America, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Hadassah’s End The Silence campaign builds on actions already taken by Hadassah’s grassroots and leadership, including calling on international organizations to denounce Hamas’ use of rape as a weapon of war; leading 60 organizations, including the ADL, NCJW and JWI, to send a letter to the UN demanding an impartial investigation of Hamas and urging Congressional leaders to speak out about this issue.

Learn more about Hadassah’s End The Silence campaign here: www.hadassah.org/endthesilence

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The Civil Commission on Oct 7th Crimes by Hamas against Women and Childrenis an independent, non-governmental commission created to document and archive every testimony and information, to research, advocate for, and support the investigation of war crimes committed by Hamas against women and children during the massacre on Oct 7th, and since then towards abducted women and children. For more information visit: https://www.dvora-institute.org/cco7.

About Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America:

Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, is the largest Jewish women’s organization in the United States. With nearly 300,000 members, donors and supporters, Hadassah brings women together to effect change on such critical issues as ensuring Israel’s security, combating antisemitism and promoting women’s health care. Through its Jerusalem-based hospital system, the Hadassah Medical Organization, Hadassah helps support exemplary care for more than 1 million people every year as well as world-renowned medical research. Hadassah’s hospitals serve without regard to race, religion or nationality and in 2005 earned a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for building bridges to peace through medicine. Hadassah also supports two youth villages that set at-risk youth in Israel on the path to a successful future. Visit www.hadassah.org or follow Hadassah on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Threads and X.