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Biden decries Hamas sexual assaults and says they must be forcefully condemned

President Joe Biden on Tuesday decried sexual assaults committed by Hamas during its October 7 terror attack on Israel and called on “all of us” to condemn the acts.

“Over the past few weeks, survivors and witnesses of the attacks have shared the horrific accounts of unimaginable cruelty. Reports of women raped — repeatedly raped — and their bodies being mutilated while still alive — of women corpses being desecrated, Hamas terrorists inflicting as much pain and suffering on women and girls as possible and then murdering them. It is appalli ng,” Biden said at a fundraising event in Boston.

The world, he said, “can’t just look away at what’s going on. It’s on all of us … to forcibly condemn the sexual violence of Hamas terrorists without equivocation.”

The president’s comments come as Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal has faced fierce criticism for not more forcefully condemning the acts by Hamas – underscoring a divide in the party over the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.

Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said in a new statement Tuesday that she “unequivocally condemns Hamas’ use of rape and sexual violence as an act of war,” following comments she made to CNN’s Dana Bash on Sunday that set off a firestorm among her Democratic House colleagues.

On “State of the Union,” the congresswoman condemned the rape of Israeli women by Hamas as “horrific” but noted that over 15,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli attacks in Gaza since the start of the war, saying: “I think we have to be balanced about bringing in the outrages against Palestinians.”

In her latest statement Tuesday, Jayapal said her comment “about balance was not about rape, and not intended to minimize rape and sexual assault in any way.”

“Let me be completely clear again that I unequivocally condemn Hamas’ use of rape and sexual violence as an act of war,” she said in the statement. “This is horrific and across the world, we must stand with our sisters, families, and survivors of rape and sexual assault everywhere to condemn this violence and hold perpetrators accountable.”

Amid the controversy over Jayapal’s comments, two House Democrats are planning to introduce a resolution this week condemning Hamas’ use of sexual violence and rape against Israeli women.

Biden on Tuesday also accused Hamas of refusing to release additional female hostages and ending the pause in fighting that the US helped broker last week.

“Let me be crystal clear: Hamas’ refusal to release the remaining young women is what broke this deal and end the pause in the fighting. Everyone still being held hostage by Hamas need to be returned to their families immediately. We’re not going to stop,” he said.

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