Dec 5, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Biden denounces "appalling" reports of Hamas raping Israeli hostages

President Biden on Nov. 15 in Woodside, California. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

President Biden on Tuesday had strong words of condemnation for Hamas' treatment of women hostages and on the terror group's refusal to release them.

The big picture: Negotiations over extending a ceasefire collapsed Friday, after Hamas refused to free 10 Israeli women and offered instead to discuss releasing elderly men.

  • State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Monday that "it seems" Hamas refused to release all the women its holding hostage because the terror group doesn't want them to discuss what they've experienced in captivity.

Driving the news: "Let me be crystal clear," Biden said during a speech at a fundraiser in Boston. "Hamas' refusal to release the remaining young women is what broke this deal and ended the pause in the fighting."

  • The president said Tuesday that there was "a report in the earliest days that Hamas used rape to terrorize women and girls during the attack on October the 7th in Israel."
  • "It is appalling," he said, adding that survivors and witnesses of the attacks have shared "horrific accounts of unimaginable cruelty" and there are reports of rape, mutilation and "of women corpses being desecrated."
  • Biden said the women are civilians, mostly between the ages of 20 and 39.

Of note: Biden said "ending violence against women and sexual assault has been one of the causes of my life." The president added, "the world can't just look away at what's going on."

  • "It's on all of us — government, international organizations, civil society and businesses — to forcefully condemn the sexual violence of Hamas terrorists without equivocation," Biden said.

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