CNN

Blinken calls sexual violence inflicted by Hamas ‘beyond anything I’ve seen’

Dec 10, 2023, 11:40 AM

Secretary of State Antony Blinken appears on CNN's "State of the Union" on December 10. (CNN)...

Secretary of State Antony Blinken appears on CNN's "State of the Union" on December 10. (CNN)

(CNN)

(CNN)Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday forcefully condemned sexual violence perpetrated by Hamas during the Oct. 7 attack and blasted those who have not forcefully condemned it or were slow to do so.

“I don’t know why countries, leaders, international organizations were so slow to focus on this, to bring it to people’s attention. I’m glad it is finally happening,” Blinken told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.” “The atrocities that we saw on October 7 are almost beyond human description or beyond our capacity to digest. And we’ve talked about them before, but the sexual violence that we saw on October 7 is beyond anything that I’ve seen either.”

The United Nations heard testimony about allegations of sexual and gender-based violence by Hamas at a panel hosted by Israel at the UN headquarters in New York last week. Several speakers reiterated that some human rights groups such as UN Women were too slow to condemn the alleged rape and sexual violence.

Asked by Tapper why the United Nations and the international community have been so slow to respond to the allegations, Blinken said, “I think it is a question that these organizations, these countries need to ask themselves.”

House Democrats are planning to introduce a resolution condemning Hamas’ use of sexual violence and rape against Israeli women after they were dismayed by the response to the allegations from some lawmakers on the left, including Progressive Caucus Chairwoman Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

Israeli police are interrogating suspects and compiling evidence, including video, forensics and witness testimony, to investigate accusations of rape during the attacks. Witnesses to the aftermath of the attacks say women and girls were sexually assaulted, tortured and killed.

CNN cannot independently verify individual allegations and claims. However, several first responders who attended the scenes of the October 7 attack told CNN the attacks were overwhelmingly gruesome and that some female victims were found undressed.

Hamas denied that its militants committed rape during the attacks in a statement last week on Telegram and decried what it called “the coordination of some Western media outlets with the Zionist misleading campaigns that promote unfounded lies and allegations aimed at demonizing the Palestinian resistance… .”

Organizers of the UN meeting refuted that denial by showing mounting evidence that rape occurred during the attacks on October 7, including graphic video footage of bodies, videos of Hamas fighters admitting under interrogation that rape occurred and testimony from Israeli police officers and witnesses to the attack and its aftermath. Speakers who prepared bodies for burial described evidence that militants gang raped some victims and purposely shot or mutilated victims in genital regions.

Blinken warns Israel

The top US diplomat also warned that as Israel continues its operations in southern Gaza, more needs to be done to protect civilians and provide humanitarian aid.

More than 17,000 people have been killed in the territory since October 7, the Hamas-run Ministry of Health in Gaza said Saturday.

“Even as Israel has taken additional steps, for example, to designate safe areas in the south, to focus on neighborhoods, not entire cities in terms of evacuating. What we’re not seeing sufficiently is a couple of things. One, making sure that the humanitarian operators who are there – starting with the United Nations performing heroically – that there are deconfliction times, places and routes so that the humanitarians can bring the assistance that’s getting into Gaza to the people who need it,” Blinken told Tapper.

The Israel Defense Forces issued “an urgent appeal” on Saturday for civilians to evacuate from much of the main southern city of Khan Younis amid fierce fighting in the area. It is unclear how many people were aware of the instruction given the lack of communications networks and internet availability in much of Gaza.

The IDF on Sunday said that it had struck more than 250 targets in the past 24 hours, including what it called Hamas military communication sites and tunnels in the Gaza Strip.

According to Hamas, 104 mosques and three historical churches have so far been destroyed. It accused Israel of the destruction of the oldest mosque, the Great Omari, calling it a “heinous and barbaric crime.”

Blinken added that “we need to see the same kind of deconfliction time, pauses, designated routes, plural, not just one, and clarity of communication, so that people know when it is safe and where it is safe to move to get out of harm’s way before they go back home. These are the kinds of things we’re working on every single day again to make sure that that gap between intent and result is as narrow as possible.”

When pressed by Tapper on the timeline going forward and whether Israel has told the US how long they think this current phase of operations will last, Blinken said the US has discussions with Israel but wouldn’t provide any further details.

“Israel has to make these decisions,” Blinken said. “Of course everyone wants to see this campaign come to a close as quickly as possible.”

But, he noted, “when the major military operation is over. This is not over.”

“Because we have to have a durable, sustainable peace. And we have to make sure that we’re on the path to a durable sustainable peace,” Blinken said.


This story has been updated with additional information.


CNN’s Sam Fossum, Catherine Thorbecke, Ivana Kottasová and Annie Grayer contributed to this report.

KSL 5 TV Live

CNN

Cave filled with clear water...

CNN

You know the most visited, but here are the least visited US national parks in 2023

There are no roads and no trails in America’s least-visited national park. Just vast wilderness. Alaska’s Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve, located 200 miles (322 kilometers) north of Fairbanks, stretches over 8.4 million acres.

10 hours ago

Taylor Swift is pictured at the Chiefs-Dolphins playoff game in Kansas City in January. (Ed Zurga, ...

Alli Rosenbloom, CNN

Taylor Swift baked ‘homemade Pop-Tarts’ for Travis Kelce’s teammates, says coach Andy Reid

Thanks to her well-known love of baking, Taylor Swift won over her boyfriend Travis Kelce’s Kansas City Chiefs teammates the old-fashioned way: by baking them “homemade Pop-Tarts,” according to the team’s coach Andy Reid.

11 hours ago

The lowest single-day price for Animal Kingdom has gone up by $10 for 2025 tickets. (AaronP/Bauer-G...

Marnie Hunter, CNN

Walt Disney World has raised ticket prices for 2025

Walt Disney World has put 2025 tickets on sale, and prices for many tickets have gone up from 2024 pricing.

12 hours ago

Police in the Caribbean are investigating the disappearance of an American couple after escaped inm...

Polo Sandoval, Elizabeth Wolfe and Sahar Akbarzai, CNN

Missing American couple allegedly hijacked on yacht in Grenada were likely thrown overboard, police say

The American couple allegedly hijacked by escaped prisoners while on their yacht in Grenada last week were likely thrown overboard, police said.

13 hours ago

Jam-Master Jay...

Eric Levenson and Jeff Winter, CNN

2 men found guilty of murder in 2002 killing of Run-DMC’s Jam Master Jay

Two men were found guilty of murder Tuesday in the 2002 killing of Jam Master Jay, the pioneering DJ of the groundbreaking hip hop trio Run-DMC, in a case that for decades frustrated detectives and music fans alike.

14 hours ago

A sled dog team crosses Portage Lake in Portage, Maine, during the Can Am Crown 250 in 2001. (Rober...

Rachel Ramirez, CNN

Longest sled dog race in eastern US canceled due to not enough snow

The organizers of the Can-Am sled dog races canceled this year’s event due to dangerously insufficient snow coverage.

14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Modern chandelier hanging from a white slanted ceiling with windows in the backgruond...

Lighting Design

Light Up Your Home With These Top Lighting Trends for 2024

Check out the latest lighting design trends for 2024 and tips on how you can incorporate them into your home.

Technician woman fixing hardware of desktop computer. Close up....

PC Laptops

Tips for Hassle-Free Computer Repairs

Experiencing a glitch in your computer can be frustrating, but with these tips you can have your computer repaired without the stress.

Close up of finger on keyboard button with number 11 logo...

PC Laptops

7 Reasons Why You Should Upgrade Your Laptop to Windows 11

Explore the benefits of upgrading to Windows 11 for a smoother, more secure, and feature-packed computing experience.

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Blinken calls sexual violence inflicted by Hamas ‘beyond anything I’ve seen’