Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday (6 December) strongly criticised international human rights organisations, women's associations, and the United Nations for their silence on the alleged sexual assaults and other abuses perpetrated by Hamas against Israeli women.
On his official X account, the Israeli PM questioned, "I address the women's rights groups, the human rights groups: You are aware of the sexual assault on Israeli women, the dreadful crimes, sexual mutilation - where exactly are you?"
During a press conference in Tel Aviv, his comments were made in the company of Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and Minister Benny Gantz. "I expect all civilised leaders, governments, nations, to speak up against this atrocity," he added.
The Times of Israel reported that Netanyahu had previously met with the freed hostages and family members of those still captive, a meeting that attendees characterised as heated and tumultuous.
He shared that he had listened to devastating accounts of maltreatment and stated, "Like you, I too have been informed of sexual harassment and exceptionally brutal instances of rape."
However, he stated, he did not perceive any outcry from women's organisations and human rights groups about this matter. "Did you remain quiet because the women were Jewish?" questioned Netanyahu.
Regarding Israel's decision to permit more humanitarian aid and fuel into Gaza, and its potential impact on the nation's influence over Hamas in terms of ensuring safety and securing the release of hostages, Netanyahu asserted that Israel's principal strategy for retrieving the hostages lies in the war effort and ground operations, which are, in fact, supported by the humanitarian aid.
He asserted that there is no conflict between the war effort and the associated humanitarian aid, as both collectively contribute to the assistance of the hostages.
Additionally, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant instructed the Israeli Defense Forces and the coordinator of activities in the territories to cease the provision of electricity, water, and fuel supplied by Israel to Gaza, as well as stop the admission of workers on 7 October.
He stated that he was progressing towards completely cutting off all responsibilities of the Israeli government for Gaza.
As the ground mission commenced, Gallant expressed his understanding that applying pressure was the key to ensuring the safe return of the hostages.
He stated that the ground operation necessitates and facilitates humanitarian aid, further noting that the military pressure is sustained through minimal humanitarian aid.
Gallant asserts that Israel reserves the "right to demand" that Hamas fulfills its responsibility to permit the Red Cross access to the hostages, or at the very least, supply them with necessary medicines and meet their other needs, in exchange for allowing fuel into Gaza.
Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
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