According to this recent CNN video Hamas terrorists engaged in sexual assault and mutilation of their victims, among them 13-14 year old girls. Among the 240 people kidnapped, there are at least 33 children. But was this part of the plan, were they given instructions to do so? And if yes, for what purpose?

And if no, were those terrorists condemned by their organization? Were they acting against or in accordance to the values of their covenant and the line of the Hamas leaders?

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    How likely are we to get straight answers on this? Israel is going to play up that angle, like the "beheaded babies" claims being made. Hamas is going to say "no, we didn't do that". I. might cite a captured Hamas terrorist as "proof". I tend to believe that it was not accidental that so many civilians were killed, with too many reports of just plain gruesome details for it not to have been policy. Or at least, certainly no effort was made to tell Hamas 10/7 attackers to spare civilians. But aside from that opinion, how likely are we to hear info from credible, unbiased sources? Nov 19, 2023 at 18:12
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    @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica The question would probably make more sense, if refocused on Hamas values and strategy. There may be religious and/or racial reasons for violating or not violating Jews. It also could be a part of psychological warfare.
    – Roger V.
    Nov 20, 2023 at 10:34
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    @RogerV. edited the question according to your suggestion. Nov 20, 2023 at 10:41
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    @sfxedit These were trained soldiers released on a long-trained-for mission. One of the facets of this mission was always going to be "rules of engagement" wrt civilians, one way or another. The comparison with Gujarat is mistaken. Hamas commanders did have control over these guys. Nov 21, 2023 at 16:47
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    Moderators, are "push question" allowed on politics.SE or not? Because you'd be hard-pressed to find a more "pushy" example of a question than this one... Jan 26 at 13:27

3 Answers 3


Hamas denial
Hamas has repeatedly denied that they have committed any sexual violence or violence against civilians on October 7. E.g., according to Egyptian Mada Masr:

Although Israel’s social security agency has identified 1,139 dead on October 7, including 695 civilians, Hamas stressed its adherence to avoiding the targeting of civilians on that day in its document, especially women, children and the elderly, as part of a religious and moral commitment, and despite lacking precision weaponry. It pointed out that any such incidents were “unintentional, perhaps due to the full and rapid collapse of the Israeli security and military system during Operation al-Aqsa Flood, as well as the ensuing chaos due to extensive breaches in the barrier and separation system between the Gaza Strip and [Hamas’] operational areas.”

Specifically in regard to the rape allegations:

The movement vehemently denied allegations of Palestinian resistance fighters sexually assaulting Israeli women, stating that these claims have been proven false. They referred to a paper published by Mondoweiss on December 1, 2023, which thoroughly investigated and debunked all rape allegations.

Although multiple the pro-Hamas media deny these allegations - like the above cited Mondoweiss - there is growing consensus in the west that the sexual assaults did take place on a scale that may constitute a crime against humanity:
Guardian (Jan 18 2024): Evidence points to systematic use of rape and sexual violence by Hamas in 7 October attacks

On Monday, UN-appointed independent experts said that “given the number of victims and the extensive premeditation and planning of the attacks”, mounting evidence of rapes and genital mutilation pointed to possible crimes against humanity.

BBC (Dec 5, 2023): Israel Gaza: Hamas raped and mutilated women on 7 October, BBC hears

The civil commission headed by Dr Elkayam-Levy, to collect testimony on sexual crimes, is calling for international recognition that what happened on 7 October was systematic abuse, constituting Crimes Against Humanity.

Reuters (Jan 8, 2024): UN experts demand accountability for sexual torture during Hamas attacks:

GENEVA, Jan 8 (Reuters) - U.N. experts on Monday demanded accountability for sexual violence against Israeli civilians during the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks, saying that mounting evidence of rapes and genital mutilation point to possible crimes against humanity.

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    It should be noted that the Guardian article you cite claims that the "Guardian is aware of .. six sexual assults for which multiple corroborating pieces of evidences exist". Six does not constitute systematic rape.
    – Ben Cohen
    Jan 27 at 22:49
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    For a more detailed analysis of the article please view here
    – Ben Cohen
    Jan 27 at 22:50
  • Also relevant, at least some of the "evidence" the Guardian uses, such as testimonies by Zaka, is very weak, considering Zaka has been caught blatantly making up other atrocities on Oct 7, which have already been disproven as propaganda.
    – Peter
    5 hours ago

Obviously, anything said will be speculation until we get direct evidence of Hamas' plans, but there are a few general points that can be made:

  1. Sexual assault has been a side effect of warfare throughout all of human history. It has become less prominent since the development of professionalized armies and international standards of warfare, but in under-developed nations (those with dictatorial leaders, tribal leadership, and undisciplined militaries) and guerrilla-style militaries it is still a common practice. I doubt Hamas specifically order such behavior; it would be more on the order of 'spoils' that soldiers decided they deserved.
  2. Mutilation is also a common practice in warfare, with the same caveats as above. Sometimes it's a specific act designed to cow conquered populations, other times it's meant as terrorism to frighten off opposition, and yet other times it is individual soldiers or units exacting vengeance or retribution. Since Hamas' goal here seemed to be creating civilian deaths, I suspect that most mutilations were of the last sort: individual soldiers acting out their anger and frustration. Beheadings might be a separate matter (if we consider that as mutilation) since beheadings have an air of formal execution rather than random butchery.
  3. Guerilla-style militaries tend to be both decentralized and loyal to their group and cause. Centralized authorities might establish general strategies and goals for warfare, but they take a laissez faire attitude towards tactics, leaving individual units to fight as they will. As such, they rarely endorse or condemn specific actions of individuals or units, so long as those actions generally advance the cause. Call it an 'ends justifies the means' worldview if you like.

In short, I expect that the people who organized this assault on Israel had a clear goal and general plan of attack, but didn't much guide or constrain the soldiers on the ground.

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    Not just under-developed nations. There are numerous accounts of rape in the Russia-Ukraine war.
    – Barmar
    Nov 20, 2023 at 20:56
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    "I expect...but didn't much guide or constrain the soldiers on the ground." I think this is so far only speculation and the first line of the answer is the more important one. Maybe Hamas leaders were control freaks that actually planned everything in meticulous details up to each mutilation. Or maybe they simply emphasized their preference of for example mutilations in the hope that the troops get the message and act accordingly. Without knowing it, I personally would say that I really don't know how much was from the top and how much from the bottom. Nov 20, 2023 at 22:32

Hamas represents itself as highly Islamic, hence I assume Islamic values should be default for them and not something that "has been a side effect of warfare throughout all of human history". Rape is regarded as a a hudud offence in Shari'a (without "borders, boundaries, limits").

If the rape cases were statistically more abundant than could be accounted for individual decisions, made by the fighters that are various people, on they own and unauthorized, then Hamas is doing different things than talking.

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