Kirby: safe to assume Hamas is still weaponizing sexual violence

United States National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby indicated that Hamas held Israeli hostages could be victims of sexual abuse when speaking with reporters in Washington on Wednesday.

“It is a sick truth of this particular group that they use sexual violence as a weapon and a tool,” he said in repose to a question about the 138 hostages still held in Gaza, including 20 women and children.

“Sadly I think it’s safe to assume that they are still using sexual violence as a weapon, but I can’t speak to specific instances,” he said.

Returned hostages were victims of sexual abuse while in captivity

The Associated Press reported that a doctor who treated some of the 105 hostages released last week told its news organization that “at least 10 men and women among those freed were sexually assaulted or abused.”

Kirby spoke as Israel has worked to highlight Hamas’ use of rape as a weapon of war during its October 7 infiltration into southern Israel in which it killed over 1,200 people and seized some 250 hostages.

LARGE TEDDY bears with splotches of red paint and the photographs of the children held hostage by Hamas terrorists in Gaza are displayed at Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Square on October 25 (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/FLASH90)

Israeli medical experts and survivors have testified that during the attack women were raped before they were killed or killed during the act of rape and that their bodies were sexually mutilated, including cutting off breasts and mutilating genitals.

Israel’s mission to the UN in New York held a special event at the organization’s headquarters to bring the stories of Hamas’ victims to light.


UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and UN Women condemned such actions only last week.

In Geneva on Wednesday, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk called for such acts to be investigated.

“As more information emerges on serious allegations of sexual violence perpetrated by members of armed Palestinian groups, including Hamas, during their attacks on Israel on 7-8 October, it is painfully clear that these attacks need to be fully investigated to ensure justice for the victims,” Turk said.

“It is crucial that there are rigorous investigations and accountability for all serious breaches of international human rights and humanitarian law. Individual criminal responsibility must be established,” Turk stated.