Israel urges UN Security Council to pressure Hamas on hostages

By Thomson Reuters Mar 11, 2024 | 5:04 PM

By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz on Monday demanded the United Nations Security Council “put as much pressure as possible” on Palestinian militants Hamas to release the people it took hostage during the Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

Katz addressed the 15-member council, which met to discuss a U.N. report that found there were “reasonable grounds to believe” sexual violence, including rape and gang rape, occurred at several locations during the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas.

“We are asking you to condemn the sexual violence crimes these barbarians committed in the name of the Muslim religion,” Katz told the Security Council, also urging the body “to put as much pressure as possible on the Hamas organization to release immediately and unconditionally all the kidnapped hostages.”

He called for sanctions to be imposed on Hamas, accusing the group of crimes “worse then the terror actions carried out by al-Qaeda, ISIS and other terror organizations” who had been targeted by the Security Council.

The Security Council has called for the immediate, unconditional release of all hostages in resolutions adopted in November and December. It is currently considering a U.S.-drafted resolution that includes a condemnation of the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas “as well as its taking and killing of hostages, murder of civilians, and sexual violence including rape.”

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield urged council members to condemn Hamas.

“There can be no doubt about what happened on October 7th. The evidence before us is damning and devastating. Now, the only question is: How will we respond? Will this council finally, finally, finally condemn Hamas’ sexual violence? Or will we continue to stay silent?” she asked the Security Council.

Hamas killed 1,200 people and seized 253 hostages on Oct. 7, according to Israeli tallies. Israel has retaliated by launching an air and ground assault on Hamas in the Gaza Strip that has killed more than 31,000 people, health authorities in Gaza say.

Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour accused Israel in the Security Council of pursuing the “forcible displacement of our people by making Gaza unlivable.”

(Reporting by Michelle Nichols; editing by Jonathan Oatis)