Ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia reiterates the international community’s need to believe the survivors and victims of Hamas’ rape and gender-based violence following the October 7 terrorist attacks against Israel.

During Women’s History Month, a month devoted to recognizing and honoring women’s accomplishments, we must acknowledge human rights groups’ inaction in response to this violence and to the ongoing rape we fear the remaining women hostages are enduring.

On March 4, nearly five months after October 7, a United Nations team finally released a report confirming what we had known all along – on and after October 7, Hamas terrorists committed unspeakable acts of sexual violence against Israeli women, men, and children. However, the report noted that investigators were not able to verify all reported incidents of sexual violence due to the “lack of public trust and confidence in national and international institutions, including the UN.” 

Due to the UN’s lack of action and urgency in documenting these reports of sexual violence, it is not surprising that survivors and witnesses would be hesitant to trust the UN. The report’s juxtaposition of these acts of sexual violence to the IDF’s handcuffing and strip-searching of Hamas terrorists only further weakens this trust and leads to the spread of false equivalencies between innocent civilians and terrorists. 

Remaining silent or minimizing the systematic and deliberate gender and sexual-based violence that Hamas committed only will stain the legacy of this month and undermine its efforts to uplift women. To fight back against this narrative, we must work to ensure that Hamas’ war crimes against women are prosecuted to the full extent of international law.

On February 14, the U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously, with one “present” vote, to condemn Hamas terrorists for rape and sexual violence on and since October 7. We thank each representative who voted “yes” for loudly and clearly calling out these crimes as weapons of war and reaffirming the U.S. government’s support for independent, impartial investigations of the sexual violence committed by Hamas.

While this is an important step in the right direction before Women’s History Month, believing and supporting women should not be reserved for just one month of the year – it must be a continuous effort.

On February 13, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia’s Women of Vision group announced a special one-time grant of $30,000 to support the Civil Commission of Oct. 7 Crimes by Hamas Against Women and Children. The commission, chaired by University of Pennsylvania alumna Dr. Cochav Elkayam Levy, is focused on collecting and documenting evidence of these war crimes to support advocacy and action on behalf of survivors and victims and supporting the establishment of international tribunals to combat misinformation and denial. 

This work is a continuation of Women of Vision’s commitment to advance the lives of self-identifying Jewish women and girls across generations and geographic boundaries through strategic grantmaking, advocacy and educational programs leading to social change and social justice. Since 2001, Women of Vision has awarded over $1.6 million to organizations in Greater Philadelphia and Israel focused on social change and justice. 

In addition, following the October 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia has raised over $15.5 million through its Philly Stands With Israel Emergency Fund to support Israel’s urgent humanitarian needs and recovery efforts, including organizations that work to empower women and address trauma. As part of its 2023 Annual Campaign, a portion of the Jewish Federation’s $61 million investment in the Jewish community in Greater Philadelphia, Israel and overseas included grants to organizations that care for and empower women and girls. 

We know that the process to get justice for these victims will not happen overnight. However, we must continue to speak out about the systematic and deliberate gender and sexual-based violence that Hamas committed.

On this International Women’s Day, we ask you to continue to be vocal on this issue to show that you stand with all women and to hold human rights organizations accountable for their inaction on this issue.

To get involved, call your representatives to remind them of the importance of believing women. You can find your representative and learn about other ways to advocate for the Jewish people locally and in Israel by visiting jewishphilly.org/advocate. 

We pray for a full recovery, both physically and mentally, for the survivors of these brutal attacks and the swift return of all the remaining hostages still being held in Gaza. 


Since 1901, the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia has served as the hub of the region’s
Jewish communities, providing an infrastructure of support for Jewish people and organizations
in need. Through grants, emergency funding, restricted gifts, endowments, and our partnership
with the Foundation for Jewish Day Schools, we invest more than $61 million each fiscal year to
care for those in need, combat antisemitism and global crisis, and strengthen Jewish identity.
For more information, please visit: jewishphilly.org.  

For press inquiries, email phillyfed@redbanyan.com.