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Biden calls for global condemnation of Hamas sexual violence 'without equivocation'

President Biden on Tuesday called for global condemnation of the use of sexual violence by Hamas against the Israelis, expressing his outrage that the group targeted women and girls.

“Ending violence against women and sexual assault has been one of the causes of my life … but the world can’t just look away at what’s going on. It’s on all of us — government, international organizations, civil society and businesses — to forcefully condemn the sexual violence of Hamas terrorists without equivocation. Without equivocation, without exception,” Biden said during a campaign reception in Boston.

Hamas killed 1,200 Israelis during its Oct. 7 attacks and took more than 240 hostages. In the aftermath, the prevalence of sexual violence was well documented and more reporting and first-account testimony since then has underscored the gruesome and vicious nature of Hamas’s use of rape as a weapon of war.

“We had a report in the earliest days that Hamas used rape to terrorize women and girls during the attack on October the 7th in Israel,” Biden said. 

“Over the past few weeks, survivors and witnesses of the attacks have shared the horrific accounts of unimaginable cruelty. Reports of women raped — repeatedly raped — and their bodies being mutilated while still alive — of women corpses being desecrated, Hamas terrorists inflicting as much pain and suffering on women and girls as possible and then murdering them. It is appalling,” he added.

His comments come after White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre the day prior said Biden finds the use of rape as a weapon of war “reprehensible,” when she was asked about Rep. Pramila Jayapal’s (D-Wash.) recent back-and-forth on CNN over the rapes being committed by Hamas fighters.

“What Hamas did is absolutely reprehensible. And, full stop. We’re going to continue to be clear about that. When we think about rape and the use of rape as being used as a weapon, that is also reprehensible, and that’s full stop,” Jean-Pierre said.

There has been widespread criticism over the lack of public outrage about the use of sexual violence by Hamas. More than 80 House lawmakers accused the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women of disregarding Hamas’s attacks on women specifically in a bipartisan letter last week

Biden on Tuesday also referenced the pause in fighting, which ended Friday, that was intended to get women and girls held by Hamas released. The Biden administration has blamed Hamas for the end in fighting with Israel by refusing to release more women and children.

“These are civilian women, mostly between the ages of 20 and 39, whom Hamas has refused to let go under the deal that paused the fighting, which I helped negotiate with the Qataris. I spent hours with the Qataris and others to broker, sustain and extend that deal. I got more than 100 hostages out,” Biden said. “Let me be crystal clear: Hamas’ refusal to release the remaining young women is what broke this deal and ended the pause in the fighting.”

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller on Monday said Hamas is likely holding back from releasing further civilian women the group kidnapped from Israel to prevent testimony on sexual violence committed against them.

Source: The Hill

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