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Hamas Raped and Massacred Israeli Women; Is There a Way to Hold Them Legally Accountable?

An aerial view shows the bodies of victims of an attack following a mass infiltration by Hamas gunmen from the Gaza Strip lying on the ground in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, in southern Israel, Oct. 10, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Ilan Rosenberg

As a former Special Victims Prosecutor, the plight of victims of sexual violence is one that I am both familiar with and sensitive to. The trauma suffered by these victims is some of the worst that a human being can endure.

The phrase “believe women” became a rallying cry during the #MeToo movement, and on the left. So the deafening silence from those quarters about the sexually violent crimes committed by Hamas on October 7, 2023, has been particularly disappointing.

The Geneva Convention specifies that “women shall be especially protected against any attack on their honor, in particular against rape or any form of indecent assault.”

The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court states that “rape, sexual slavery, forced pregnancy, or any other form of sexual violence” is a crime against humanity.

Yet, ironically, November 25 is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, when UN Women launches an annual UN-wide campaign — and there is not a whisper of condemnation emanating from the hallowed halls of the UN about the hideous sexual violence committed by Hamas against Israeli women. This, despite mounting evidence that rape was systematically used against Israeli women as a tool of terror on October 7.

A glossary of translated phrases from Arabic to Hebrew was recovered from Hamas terrorists that included instructions such as “Take your pants off.” There is a disturbing video from October 7 of a young Israeli girl being dragged by her hair with her hands bound behind her back in Gaza. Her crotch area is visibly stained with blood. A harrowing account was just released by Israeli police of a witness who watched as Hamas terrorists gang raped a woman before shooting her in the head. There are numerous accounts of Israeli girls and women being found murdered, with their pants and undergarments completely removed.

In implementing rape as a tool for terror, Hamas committed war crimes.

What recourse exists to prosecute Hamas for these crimes? I spoke with George P. Fletcher, the Cardozo Professor of Jurisprudence at Columbia Law School and preeminent expert in international criminal law about this prospect.

“There is little doubt that Hamas has committed innumerable war crimes,” Professor Fletcher said. “Rape is considered a crime against humanity in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and it violates the Geneva Conventions. It is related to genocide because it changes the population by producing offspring.”

Aside from the rape abuses, Hamas’ “charter would be Exhibit A in a prosecution for genocide” Professor Fletcher said, referencing Article 7 of Hamas’ 1988 charter, which calls for the killing of Jews.

Given its anti-Israel bias, and that the ICC has tried to haul Israelis into court under trumped up charges, going to the ICC for justice seems like a horrible mistake. Israel says it will try Hamas war criminals; but what can be done elsewhere?

Professor Fletcher offered a creative and promising alternative to the ICC: the Alien Tort Claims Act (ATCA). While it doesn’t have the geopolitical gravitas of the ICC, “the ATCA allows foreign nationals the ability to sue in US Federal courts for violations of international law, particularly human rights violations,” Fletcher said. I pressed Professor Fletcher on the risks involved in a potential counter-suit for Israeli violations of international law. He responded that, “The concern about a counter-suit is litigious harassment, not the merits. Let them bring their case. A full hearing of the evidence is good for Israel.”

There are a number of logistical issues such a case raises. For example, how would Hamas be served with the complaint? If a judgment for violation of international law were reached, what kind of penalties could be levied and how would it be enforced? If Hamas has assets in the US, then they could be frozen as a result of a judgment against it. But it is unclear whether Hamas has any such assets or US bank accounts.

Professor Fletcher suggested that victims of Hamas’ war crimes sue Iran as well, since there is ample evidence that “Hamas are agents of Iran.” Iran is the biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world, and pairing Hamas and Iran as co-defendants would highlight this fact. Moreover, it would be easier to enforce a judgment against Iran than it would an amorphous terrorist group in Hamas.

Given the inordinate frequency with which it condemns Israel, the United Nations may not be a hospitable environment for Israeli victims of Hamas war crimes to get justice. US Federal courts might provide a better forum for them to do so. In whichever way the victims of October 7 seek justice, it is clear that they will need to be creative in their approach.

Kenneth Blake is a former Special Victims Prosecutor at the Kings County District Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, NY. He is a Government and Critical Thinking teacher at St. Vincent de Paul High School in Petaluma, CA. 

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Israeli Official: ‘Important Operation’ in Yemen Sends Strong Message to Shiite Axis

Drones are seen at a site at an undisclosed location in Iran, in this handout image obtained on April 20, 2023. Photo: Iranian Army/WANA (West Asia News Agency)/Handout via REUTERS

i24 NewsA senior Israeli security official spoke to i24NEWS on Saturday on condition of the retaliatory strike carried out by the Israel Air Force against the Houthi jihadists in Yemen.

“This is an important operation which signals that there’s room for further escalation, and sends a very strong message to the entire Shiite axis.”

“We understood there is a high probability of counter attacks, but if we do not respond, the meaning is even worse. Israel has updated the US prior to the operation.”

The strike on Hodeida came after long-range Iranian-made drone hit a building in central Tel Aviv, killing one man and wounded several others.

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IDF Confirms Striking ‘Terrorist Houthi Regime’ in Yemen’s Hodeida

Houthi leader Abdul-Malik al-Houthi addresses followers via a video link at the al-Shaab Mosque, formerly al-Saleh Mosque, in Sanaa, Yemen, Feb. 6, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

i24 NewsThe Israeli military on Saturday confirmed striking a port in Yemen controlled by the Houthi jihadists, a day after the Iranian proxy group perpetrated a deadly drone attack on Tel Aviv.

“A short while ago, IDF fighter jets struck military targets of the Houthi terrorist regime in the area of the Al Hudaydah Port in Yemen in response to the hundreds of attacks carried out against the State of Israel in recent months.”

After Houthi drone attack on Tel Aviv, reports and footage out of Yemen of air strikes hitting Hodeida

— Video used in accordance with clause 27A of Israeli copyright law

— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) July 20, 2024

Yoav Gallant, the defense minister, issued a statement saying “The fire that is currently burning in Hodeidah, is seen across the Middle East and the significance is clear. The Houthis attacked us over 200 times. The first time that they harmed an Israeli citizen, we struck them. And we will do this in any place where it may be required.”

“The blood of Israeli citizens has a price,” Gallant added. “This has been made clear in Lebanon, in Gaza, in Yemen, and in other places – if they will dare to attack us, the result will be identical.”

Gallant: ‘The fire currently burning in Hodeida is seen across the region and the significance is clear… The blood of Israeli citizens has a price, as has been made clear in Lebanon, in Gaza, in Yemen and in other places – if they dare attack us, the result will be identical.’

— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) July 20, 2024

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One Part of Cyprus Mourns, the Other Rejoices 50 Years After Split

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan leaves after attending a military parade to mark the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus in response to a short-lived Greek-inspired coup, in the Turkish-controlled northern Cyprus, in the divided city of Nicosia, Cyprus July 20, 2024. Photo: REUTERS/Yiannis Kourtoglou

Greek Cypriots mourned and Turkish Cypriots rejoiced on Saturday, the 50th anniversary of Turkey’s invasion of part of the island after a brief Greek inspired coup, with the chances of reconciliation as elusive as ever.

The ethnically split island is a persistent source of tension between Greece and Turkey, which are both partners in NATO but are at odds over numerous issues.

Their differences were laid bare on Saturday, with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attending a celebratory military parade in north Nicosia to mark the day in 1974 when Turkish forces launched an offensive that they call a “peace operation.”

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis was due later on Saturday to attend an event in the south of the Nicosia to commemorate what Greeks commonly refer to as the “barbaric Turkish invasion.” Air raid sirens sounded across the area at dawn.

Mitsotakis posted an image of a blood-stained map of Cyprus on his LinkedIn page with the words “Half a century since the national tragedy of Cyprus.”

There was jubilation in the north.

“The Cyprus Peace Operation saved Turkish Cypriots from cruelty and brought them to freedom,” Erdogan told crowds who gathered to watch the parade despite stifling midday heat, criticizing the south for having a “spoiled mentality” and seeing itself as the sole ruler of Cyprus.

Peace talks are stalled at two seemingly irreconcilable concepts – Greek Cypriots want reunification as a federation. Turkish Cypriots want a two-state settlement.

Erdogan left open a window to dialogue although he said a federal solution, advocated by Greek Cypriots and backed by most in the international community, was “not possible.”

“We are ready for negotiations, to meet, and to establish long-term peace and resolution in Cyprus,” he said.

Cyprus gained independence from Britain in 1960, but a shared administration between Greek and Turkish Cypriots quickly fell apart in violence that saw Turkish Cypriots withdraw into enclaves and led to the dispatch of a U.N. peacekeeping force.

The crisis left Greek Cypriots running the internationally recognized Republic of Cyprus, a member of the European Union since 2004 with the potential to derail Turkey’s own decades-long aspirations of joining the bloc.

It also complicates any attempts to unlock energy potential in the eastern Mediterranean because of overlapping claims. The region has seen major discoveries of hydrocarbons in recent years.


Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides, whose office represents the Greek Cypriot community in the reunification dialogue, said the anniversary was a somber occasion for reflection and for remembering the dead.

“Our mission is liberation, reunification and solving the Cyprus problem,” he said. “If we really want to send a message on this tragic anniversary … it is to do anything possible to reunite Cyprus.”

Turkey, he said, continued to be responsible for violating human rights and international law over Cyprus.

Across the south, church services were held to remember the more than 3,000 people who died in the Turkish invasion.

“It was a betrayal of Cyprus and so many kids were lost. It wasn’t just my son, it was many,” said Loukas Alexandrou, 90, as he tended the grave of his son at a military cemetery.

In Turkey, state television focused on violence against Turkish Cypriots prior to the invasion, particularly on bloodshed in 1963-64 and in 1967.

Turkey’s invasion took more than a third of the island and expelled more than 160,000 Greek Cypriots to the south.

Reunification talks collapsed in 2017 and have been at a stalemate since. Northern Cyprus is a breakaway state recognized only by Turkey, and its Turkish Cypriot leadership wants international recognition.

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