Live News

[Blog] Is Pramila Patten’s Report on sexual violence purported to have taken place on 7 October 2023 flawed ?

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on sexual violence in conflict , Pramila Patten.

As the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General on sexual violence in conflict , Pramila Patten carried out a mission to Israel from 29 January- February 14 2024 to report on alleged incidents and pattern of Conflict Related Sexual Violence (CRSV) during the 7 October attacks by Hamas. She submitted her report which was released on March 4 . Soon after it came under attack from different quarters. In an article on CounterPunch dated March 13 , independent American journalist , Peter Bolton , stated that Patten’s Report is « deeply flawed in both its methods and conclusions » .


He added that it has « some glaring epistemological problems, all of which seem to serve the Israeli narrative  that its genocide in Gaza is somewhat justified. « Arun Gupta doubled down in another article on March 15 to denounce the report while the Electronic Intifida drew attention to a number of inconsistencies.On the other hand , the Foreign Policy magazine pointed out that the UN mission was « not investigative. » The question ,therefore, is : why the report of the Special envoy came under fire ? One reason is that there is an apparent disconnect between the self proclaimed limitations of the mission and its  subsequent findings on one hand and the general conclusions drawn therein on the other. 

Let us , to begin with ,delve into the limitations and findings as highlighted in the report. First  , the mission was of short duration,  lasting only 17 days . Secondly , the UN team admitted that they faced  challenges in gathering and verifying information due to « limited access to survivors / victims of sexual violence». As a result,  they did not have « first-hand information « but only « circumstantial « one.  

Thirdly,  there was a complete absence of forensic evidence which « limited the mission’s ability to draw definite forensic conclusions » .Fourthly , the mission was not in a position to link «photos and videos with specific individuals» .  « As for the findings , the mission noted that the allegations of 2 cases of sexual violence widely reported in the media as having taken place at Kibbutz Be’eri were « unfounded ». One of the so-called cases referred to was about « a highly publicised allegation of a pregnant woman whose womb had been reportedly ripped open before being killed with the fetus stabbed while still being inside «.Secondly,  the mission admitted that it could not ascertain the veracity of allegations relating to « intentionally inserting harmful objects into female genital organs » . The mission also reported that it could not verify the allegation of a case of rape and genital mutilation that supposedly took place at Nahal Oz military base .

Yet , despite these limitations and denial of allegations,  the report of Pramila Patten concluded that « there are reasonable grounds to believe that conflict -related sexual violence occurred during the 7 October attacks in multiple locations across Gaza periphery , including rape and gang rape » . One can legitimately ask what motivated such a  conclusion. It is based on the meetings that the UN team had with Israeli national institutions, security agencies, line ministries and on accounts of witnesses.  Based on these accounts,  the mission adopted the narrative that « several fully naked or partially naked bodies from the waist down were recovered - mostly women- with hands tied down and shot multiple times in the head ...indicative of some form of sexual violence » .

It is worth pointing out that, based similay on accounts of so-called witnesses ,  the New York Times also came up with a sensational article entitled « Screams without Words ; how Hamas weaponised sexual violence on October7 » on 28th December 2023 . What was the source of its information? The Intercept , in an article of March 7 , pointed that one of the reporters not only had shown her bias by liking a post urging Israel to turn Gaza into a « slaughter house » but also admitted that she had not been able to find « any  single complaint about sexual violence during October 7 from Israeli hospitals , rape crisis centers,  trauma recovery facilities and sexual assault hotlines ».

She had had to address to so-called eye witnesses referred by the Israeli government(which makes them evidently suspect) .She built her story on the case of Ghal Abdush which forms the very backbone of the article of New York Times.  According to the Israeli police , Ghal Abdush was raped and she was found with her « burnt corpse lying on her back , dress torn, legs spread , vagina exposed ». But her sister and other surviving members of her family vehemently denied that she was raped .

Apart from Israeli institutions,  only 2 persons claimed to have witnessed rape and sexual violence. All the narratives of the Israeli government reproduced by the media were built on the testimonies of the 2 so-called eye witnesses. Who are they ? One is an anonymous woman called Sapir .She claimed that she was wounded , she hid in dry grass and watched . What she related is so fantastic that it is hardly believable .She stated that « one terrorist raped a woman; another cut off her breast and throw it to someone else who plays with it and throws it .....3 other women were raped , their heads were cut off and terrorists carried their heads in their hands as trophies ...there wasn’t anything that they did not do with the heads « .The implication is that « Hamas fighters were having sex with the severed heads « . Is this realistic when one is on a specific mission to abduct hostages and is under extreme pressure? The other so called eye- witness is a special forces soldier called Raz Cohen who claimed that he saw a van pull up , five men dragged a woman , raped her and raised a knife and slaughtered her . In an earlier version to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation,  he only mentioned the stabbing  , not the alleged rape .

All these accounts « lack photo and forensic evidence and survivor testimony ».Another source of information for the media is the position paper « Sexual and Gender based violence as a Weapon of War during the October 7 Hamas attacks » , written by Hadas Ziv , director of ethics and policy at Physicians for Human Rights -Israel . However,  Arun Gupta , referring to an interview she gave to  YES ! , stated that she later admitted « credibility problems with sources « and that she did not review all available evidence. In her own report there is a glaring discrepancy as she counted one incident as two separate ones.  On the other hand   YES!  viewed » over 60,000 visual documents , including videos from Gopro cameras worn by attackers , CCTV footage and images from drones...every graphic video and photo , including a Telegram channel. Israeli government websites , a five-part series of snuff films that showed militants’ brutal killings , and hundred of corpses ..but nothing like the scenes  described by Cohen and Sapir » . YES! also carried out investigations, examined reports , hundreds of news articles, interviews with Israeli sources, photos and video evidence.  Conclusion: « No evidence of mass rape »

Several fully naked or partially naked bodies from the waist down were recovered - mostly women- with hands tied down and shot multiple times in the head ...indicative of some form of sexual violence"

It is worth pointing out that just after October 7 , the Israeli government posted on its website a photo of so called Israeli women in positions purporting that they had been raped . This was denounced by American Jewish journalist , Max Blumenthal , who pointed out that it was  an old photo dated May 2022  about Kurdish female fighters . Israel had to withdraw it from its website.  This in itself helps to cast doubt on the Israeli government narratives about mass rape used as a weapon of war by Hamas. 

That does not mean that rape did not take place at all  . There might have been a few cases here and there but they did not form a pattern of mass rape used as a weapon of war . 

As Electronic Intifida puts it , such propaganda is part of « a long history of depicting indigenous people as savages , sex predators  ..» . In this case ,its purpose is to « demonize Hamas and soften up public opinion to tolerate or support Israel’ s ongoing genocide in Gaza» 

Finally,  there are many allegations of cases of rape and sexual violence in Israeli prisons against Palestinian female prisoners  and women in Gaza detained by Israeli soldiers . Western media are silent on these cases.

Azize Banker


Notre service WhatsApp. Vous êtes témoins d`un événement d`actualité ou d`une scène insolite? Envoyez-nous vos photos ou vidéos sur le 5 259 82 00 !