Planned Parenthood, the network of women’s health care and abortion clinics, released a statement on Tuesday about Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel and the subsequent war in Gaza. The statement recognized and condemned Hamas’s use of rape and other sexual violence against Israeli women, and also called to safeguard women’s and maternal health care in Gaza even amid the bloody war between Israel and Hamas.
“On October 7, Hamas unleashed a brutal attack in Israel,” the statement reads, “killing over one thousand civilians, sexually assaulting women and girls, and kidnapping over 200 people, many of whom remain captive. Planned Parenthood unequivocally condemns the atrocities committed by Hamas,” it continues, “and rape as an act of war in any conflict.”
The group had issued a previous statement on October 16, which referred to “Hamas’ horrific attack on Israeli civilians and the humanitarian crisis continuing to unfold in Gaza with the escalation of war,” but made no reference to sexual violence as a part of the attack. The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) has made several statements as well, but this organization is, while connected to Planned Parenthood for America (PPFA), distinct from it.
Statement on violence in Israel and Gaza. pic.twitter.com/M9MfnTQrJo
— Planned Parenthood (@PPFA) December 5, 2023
Statement comes amid major campaign to recognize the issue
PPFA’s statement came amid a growing campaign by Israel and its allies against widespread silence from women’s organizations about the eyewitness, forensic, and video evidence of Hamas terrorists raping Israeli women on October 7.
In a sidebar meeting at the United Nations on Monday, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan denounced UN Women, the international body’s women’s-rights arm, for inaction and omission of the issue, having only publicly addressed it in early December, almost two months after the attack took place.
The event included testimony from Shari Mendes, an army reservist whose IDF rabbinical unit participated in the identification and preparation-for-burial of the bodies of women who were killed in the attack. “Our team commander saw several female soldiers who were shot in the crotch – intimate parts/vagina – or shot in the breast,” she said.
Other forensic experts have testified that they’ve seen evidence of sexual violence on the bodies of those killed in the attack, and publicly available video that circulated on social media shows Israeli women hostages with bloodied pants or removed clothing. The United States said last week that Hamas has refused to release some of Israel’s remaining women hostages because it does not want them to testify publicly about what they underwent at the hands of the terrorist group.