CNN’s Bash has tense exchange over Hamas rapes with Jayapal

CNN anchor Dana Bash pressed Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) on the silence from some fellow progressive leaders on Hamas’s use of rape as a weapon of war against Israeli women, in a tense exchange in a Sunday interview.

“It is kind of remarkable that this issue hasn’t gotten enough attention globally, widespread use of rape, brutal rape, sexual violence against Israeli women by Hamas,” Bash said.

“I have seen a lot of progressive women, generally speaking, that are quick to defend women’s rights and speak out against using rape as a weapon of war, but downright silent on what we saw on Oct. 7 and what might be happening inside Gaza right now to these hostages. Why is that?” Bash continued.

Jayapal contested the premise.

“I mean, I don’t know that that’s true. I think what — we always talk about the impact of war on women, in particular. In fact, I remember, 20 years ago, I did a petition around the war in Iraq, saying that …”

Bash cut in, asking whether Jayapal has talked about it since Oct. 7, when the U.S.-designated terrorist organization Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel’s southern border, killing 1,200 Israelis and taking more than 240 hostages.

“Oh, absolutely. And I have condemned what Hamas has done. I have condemned all of the actions.” Jayapal said.

“Specifically against women?” Bash asked.

“Absolutely, the rape, the — of course,” Jayapal answered, before pivoting her answer to focus on Israel, noting it is a democracy and is held to a higher standard “if they do not comply with international law.”

“And, frankly, morally, I think we cannot say that one war crime deserves another. That is not what international humanitarian law says,” Jayapal added.

Bash pointedly noted Jayapal’s diversion.

“OK, with respect, I was just asking about the women, and you turned it back to Israel. I’m asking you about Hamas,” Bash said.

“I already answered your question, Dana. I said it’s horrific,” Jayapal said. “And I think that rape is horrific. Sexual assault is horrific. I think that it happens in war situations. Terrorist organizations like Hamas obviously are using these as tools.”

“However, I think we have to be balanced about bringing in the outrages against Palestinians,” she continued, adding, “Fifteen thousand Palestinians have been killed in Israeli airstrikes, three-quarters of whom are women and children.”

Bash responded directly: “And it’s horrible, but you don’t see Israeli soldiers raping Palestinian women.”

“Well, Dana, I think we’re not — we’re not — I don’t want this to be the hierarchy of oppressions,” Jayapal said.

The Hill has reached out to Jayapal’s office for additional comment.

The condemnation of Hamas for sexual violence during its rein of terror on Israel has also become a flashpoint for tensions in the United Nations.

More than 80 House lawmakers accused United Nations (UN) Women of disregarding the militant group Hamas’s attacks on women specifically in a bipartisan letter last week.

“The failure by UN Women to publicly stand up for Israeli women and condemn Hamas’ systematic atrocities undermines UN Women and highlights its one-sided approach,” the lawmakers wrote Wednesday to UN Women Executive Director Sima Bahous.

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