Times of Israel: At Knesset conference on sexual violence, participants slam silence from women’s groups on Hamas crimes

Addressing a conference in the Knesset on combating sexual violence, Opposition Leader Yair Lapid, slams those who ignore or minimize Hamas’s mass rape of Israeli women and declares that “silence is a crime against women.”

“We came here today to cry out against silence,” he says. “In Trafalgar Square in London, people who see themselves as liberal, who see themselves as progressive, talk about the rights of terrorists and the reason they justify murder. But when it comes to rape, silence. In Dublin and Madrid, in UCLA, in Berkeley, useful idiots shout from the river to the sea without understanding they are calling for genocide against Jews. They believe everything they see on their phones, but do not believe the horrific testimonies of sexual abuse by Hamas terrorists when it comes to this. Silence.”

He warns: “Throughout history, there has been a conspiracy of silence surrounding sexual violence during war. This is what enabled it… Women are raped, humiliated, murdered, and the world is silent.”

The meeting, convened by MK Shelly Tal Meron of Lapid’s Yesh Atid party, seeks to establish a “Global Women’s Coalition Against Gender Based Violence as a Weapon of War.” Speaking at the conference — which was organized together with ELNET, an organization working to build ties between Israel and Europe — Tal Meron announces that “we are declaring today the establishment of an important historical coalition, of acknowledging sexual violence as a crime of war.”

International law has already recognized this, she say, but “the cultural and political ‏perception” must change. She notes, “For the 128 hostages, and especially the 17 women who are still held in Gaza, this reality is going on now for 227 days.”

In a prerecorded message, former French prime minister Manuel Vals compares Hamas crimes to those committed by Russian forces in Ukraine and argues that “we could have hoped for greater outrage at this femicide, at these appalling atrocities, and notably by part of the feminist movement that has remained too silent.”

French MP Aurore Bergé, minister for gender equality and the fight against discrimination, likewise addresses the conference, declaring that Israel “can count on France’s determination… to combat this scourge [of weaponized sexual violence] we sadly see reemerging.”

“We will stand by your side to shed light on what happened,” she says. “These crimes too must not be unpunished.”