Hadassah Leads 53 Organizations to Demand UN Secretary General Hold Hamas Accountable for Crimes Against Humanity

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Media Contact:
Lilly Freemyer


NEW YORK, NY – Today, as the world prepares to observe International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict tomorrow, Hadassah, The Women’s Zionist Organization of America, along with Jewish Women International, I Believe Israeli Women Global Movement, the National Council of Jewish Women, the American Muslim & Multifaith Women’s Empowerment Council and 49 additional organizations, delivered a letter to United Nations Secretary General António Guterres pressing him to condemn Hamas for its weaponization of sexual violence against Israeli women and girls on and after October 7 and to call Hamas’ criminal actions what they are: crimes against humanity.

“When the UN recognizes International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict on June 19, it will have been eight months since Hamas brutally attacked Israel and weaponized sexual violence as a tactic of war,” said Hadassah National President Carol Ann Schwartz. “Several organizations, including the UN itself, have published significant evidence of Hamas’ crimes. Yet the biased, antisemitic UN Commission on Inquiry released a report that ignores this overwhelming evidence and fails to hold Hamas responsible for its crimes against humanity, including the clear and horrific use of sexual violence. We at Hadassah, and our partners, call on the Secretary General and other UN leaders to condemn Hamas for its systematic weaponization of sexual violence and to call these crimes what they are: crimes against humanity.”

Created in 2015 by the UN itself, International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict commemorates the adoption of the first UN Security Council resolution recognizing conflict-related sexual violence as a threat to international peace and security. By failing to hold Hamas accountable, the UN is falling short of its own goal of promoting justice – in this case, not only for Israeli women and girls but also for all women and girls who are victims of systemic, gender-based violence across the globe. The UN’s failure to recognize Hamas’ sexual violence on October 7 and beyond as crimes against humanity sends a message to terrorists everywhere that they may commit barbaric, heinous war crimes without fear of retribution and undoes years of progress by the international community in addressing sexual violence in conflict.

Earlier this month, the biased UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) issued reports focused on Hamas’ October 7 attack and Israel’s response. As expected, these reports showed outrageous bias, including blaming Israel for the unprecedented terrorist rampage perpetuated by Hamas. The COI's dangerous efforts to downplay and justify Hamas' terrorism and disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians pave the way for violent extremists across the globe to rape and murder civilians with impunity (Hadassah’s response to this report can be found here).

As part of a global effort led by Hadassah to raise awareness of Hamas’ criminal acts and to demand that it be held accountable, many of the organizations joining with Hadassah today wrote to the Secretary General around International Women’s Day (March 8), calling on the UN to establish a truly independent, impartial investigation into Hamas’ use of rape as a weapon of war and to pursue a vigorous prosecution that would hold Hamas accountable. As part of the same Hadassah-led global effort, 150,000 people in nearly 120 countries signed a petition, later delivered to the Secretary General, demanding justice for the victims and accountability for Hamas.

“Until a legitimate, unbiased investigation is undertaken and completed, and Hamas is held fully accountable, Hadassah and its partners will continue to speak out and demand justice for the victims of Hamas’ systematic weaponization of sexual violence,” said Hadassah National President Carol Ann Schwartz.

Read Hadassah’s full letter to Secretary General Guterres and the complete list of signatories here.

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.