Keren Shem and her daughter Mia Shem, who was kidnapped by Hamas
Keren Shem and her daughter Mia Shem, who was kidnapped by HamasGideon Markowitz/TPS

The Ministry for the Advancement of Women in Israel published an urgent appeal to dozens of women's organizations around the world to act in support of the female victims of Hamas' massacre of over 1,400 Israelis and the taking of over 200 hostages back to Gaza. The letter was sent to the International Alliance of Women, IAW United Nations Human Rights Council United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, UN Women United Nations Women's Peace and Security Agenda, World Health Organization, The Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions, Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, Independent Expert on Human Rights and International Solidarity, Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Working Group on Discrimination Against Women and Girls, Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, The Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), and The Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID)

The full letter follows:

During the early hours of October 7 - 2023, Hamas launched a violent and massive surprise attack against Israel from the Gaza Strip. During the diabolical and monstrous attack, IDF bases and posts were attacked and soldiers were slaughtered while lying in their beds, shooting battles were fought with security forces and innocent civilians.

During the same time, towns and villages (kibutzim) situated near the border, were taken over by terrorists. This was a sickening attack in which acts of massacre and shooting of Israeli civilians were carried out. Many of which were live executions - streamed live to friends and families of the victims through social media. These atrocities reoccur near Kibbutz Ra'im, where youngsters who visited a music festival of peace and freedom - were raped and slaughtered.

In addition, those who were not killed in horrendous ways were kidnapped: soldiers, men and women, boys and girls, elderlies - including Holocaust survivors, and infants, only a few months old.

In this anti-Semitic terror attack, Hamas murdered hundreds of women and girls and kidnapped dozens of women and girls.

During the barbaric attack, Hamas terrorists were filming the obscenities - the horrific acts of rape and beating of women, the beating of children with endless cruelty, acts of humiliation, cold-blooded murder and kidnapping - all were broadcast live to the world, through various social media platforms. These women and girls were exposed, humiliated, and injured in inhumane manners in front of the entire world.

The Hamas attack was brutal and systematic and was carried out deliberately against a vulnerable and sensitive population. A non-combatant population.

The horrifying Hamas actions constitute a blatant and unprecedented violation of international humanitarian law, which mandates the protection of women between all parties to an armed conflict.

The barbaric Holocaust-like attack by Hamas inflicted women of all ages with unimaginable suffering. Women were raped, their bodies were mutilated, their limbs were amputated, they were butchered, kidnapped and their lives and their families' lives were taken.

By doing so, Hamas violated every principle relating to the protection of women and children during combat.

The abduction of the women and children and taking them as prisoners of war in Gaza while abusing them in an unprecedented manner is also psychological warfare and a war tactic aimed at undermining the Israeli spirit, to humiliate, torment the victim's families and the whole people of Israel, and above all - to cause a mass trauma for Jews all around the world.

The right to life is a basic right owed to every human being. The violation of the right to life is a serious violation of international humanitarian law, and must be fought in every way. The enlightened and free world must stand up and resist any violation of this birthgiven right.

Section 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention from 1949 (protection of civilians) provides protection to women caught up in an international armed conflict - "against attacks on their dignity, especially against rape and forced prostitution, or against any form of attack on their modesty"; "against any attack on their honor, in particular against rape, enforced prostitution, or any form of indecent assault" (Fourth Geneva Convention Article 27, 1949).

In section 76 of the First Protocol to the Geneva Convention, special protection is given to women, according to which: Women shall be the object of special respect and shall be protected in particular against rape, forced prostitution, and any other form of indecent assault (Protocol 1 Article 76 (1), Additional to the Geneva conventions, 1977).

Women and girls are particularly vulnerable to sexual violence, rape, and human trafficking. Human rights, personal security, and body dignity are violated by sexual violence during war. Sexual violence is expressly prohibited by the United States War Crimes Prevention Act (1996) and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (1998).

The Association of Rape Centers in Israel confirmed that information was received from various reliable sources, according to which Hamas members committed violent and serious sexual offenses against innocent young Israeli women.

According to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), sexual abuse, including rape, acts of sodomy, sexual slavery, forced pregnancy, turning a person into a sexual instrument, and illegal sexual relations, are serious crimes that constitute a violation of human rights and international humanitarian law.

Section 6(1) states that: "Every person, regardless of gender, race, nationality, religion or social status, is entitled to protection against sexual abuse."

Section 7 states that "Sexual abuse is war crimes and crimes against humanity." The serious injury to women and children in the cruel and inhumane terrorist attack on 7.10.23, requires unequivocal, unconditional, and uncompromising condemnation, made uniformly by all international organizations.

It requires an immediate response and measures taken by all international organizations regarding the violation of human rights and humanitarian law committed by Hamas.

The international community is obligated to combat terrorism, prevent harm to women, and protect the rights of women throughout the world during war, free from political discrimination and without bias.

We can only protect women's rights and maintain peace and security in the Middle East and around the world through united international action!

As head of the Ministry for Women's Status in Israel and on behalf of all women in Israel - I call upon you to stand on the right side of history!

Women all over the world are watching and listening and expecting you to care and to ACT!

Stand by the basic rights of the women of the State of Israel!

Do not allow this barbaric anti-Semitic act to deprive women of their dignity, soul, spirit, and body.

Speak up for the kidnapped women and girls held captive by a murderous terrorist organization and no one knows what their true situation is.

Imagine it was your daughter, sister, mother, or grandmother.

Furthermore, Hamas is a terror organization! Referring to Hamas in any other way creates a false impression and will consequently result in grave damage to humanity's morals and future.


Stand up for the women of Israel - so that in the future, no woman in the world will experience what they are experiencing now.