"The atrocities that we saw on Oct. 7 are almost beyond human description or beyond our capacity to digest," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an interview Sunday with Jake Tapper. He also referred specifically to reports of sexual assaults during the Hamas attack that started the war with Israel:
The sexual violence that we saw on Oct. 7 is beyond anything that I’ve seen.
In a report collecting evidence of sexual harassment during the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks, Physicians for Human Rights Israel called for an investigation to determine whether there were official orders behind the numerous episodes and claimed that hostages "face an ongoing threat of sexual violence."
The testimonies of the hostages that have been freed seem to confirm this fear. One of their doctors told the AP that at least a dozen men and women had suffered sexual harassment or abuse during their captivity. On Monday, a released hostage said she knew of three other cases, according to The Times of Israel.
— State of the Union (@CNNSOTU) December 10, 2023
Blinken also said that he did not understand why it had taken so long for the international community and the UN to condemn these sexual attacks, although he was "glad it’s finally happened." Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan criticized the international body several times for the same reason.
The UN's inaction is a frequent subject of Erdan's criticism, and its actions did not merit a better response. "Israel has zero trust in its findings and its illegitimate activities," he maintained in conversation with Fox, about the Commission of Inquiry (COI) of the institution that will be in charge of investigating crimes of abuse and sexual harassment on both sides. He went further:
Its "investigation" into the terror organization’s sexual crimes against Israeli women on Oct. 7 is akin to Yahya Sinwar, the head of Hamas in Gaza, investigating its crimes.
What Physicians for Human Rights Israel wrote about the evidence of sexual assaults on October 7 also applies to the testimonies of the released hostages: they stress the "urgent need to release the hostages still being held in Gaza."
Hostages at risk
Following the release of 105 civilians, more than 130 are believed to still be in the hands of the jihadist group. This weekend, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reported that 20 are believed to have been killed.
Shortly thereafter, the terrorist group threatened to kill all the hostages. Its spokesman Abu Obeida said: "Neither the fascist enemy and its arrogant leadership… nor its supporters… can take their prisoners alive without an exchange and negotiation and meeting the demands of the resistance."
— VOZ (@VozMediaUSA) December 11, 2023
Israel advances in Gaza
As Israel exchanges air strikes with Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon, ground fighting continues in Gaza.
The death of seven Israeli soldiers Sunday brought the total to 104 since the ground offensive began, according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). The figure stands at 433 since the Oct. 7 attack.
🕯️El Sgto. Maor Cohen Eisenkot, soldado de combate de 19 años en la Brigada Golani, caído en combate en el sur de Gaza.
🕯️El Sgto. 1ro. Jonathan Dean Jr Haim, soldado de combate de 25 años en el Cuerpo de Ingeniería de Combate, caído en combate en el sur de Gaza.
— FDI (@FDIonline) December 10, 2023
According to various reports, the IDF has reportedly reached the southern city of Khan Younis. The other two current focal points for the offensive are in the north: Jabaliya and Shajaiye.
Israeli forces also confirmed that hunting down Hamas leaders remains a priority.
IDF ground, air and naval troops continue operations targeting and eliminating terrorists, their commanders and any Hamas operatives until we meet our goals—to eliminate Hamas and bring the hostages home. pic.twitter.com/P4tCtu1YBs
— Israel Defense Forces (@IDF) December 10, 2023