Sheryl Sandberg Calls on Americans to Denounce Rape as an Act of War: ‘Cries for Justice Will Help Victims’

Reflecting on the reported sexual violence inflicted by Hamas terrorists last month, Sandberg writes, "Not loudly condemning the rapes of October 7 — or any rapes — is a massive step backward"

Antoine Antoniol/Getty  Sheryl Sandberg
Antoine Antoniol/Getty Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg is urging activists to shift "from politics to humanity" amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, specifically calling for a mass condemnation of sexual violence reportedly inflicted upon Israeli citizens during Hamas terrorists' Oct. 7 attack.

Sandberg — founder of the nonprofit organization LeanIn.Org and the former chief operating officer at Meta — details in an op-ed penned for CNN how witnesses to the attack have reported several instances of Hamas militants raping women on Oct. 7, writing, "An eyewitness has recounted the horror of watching a fellow concert-goer being gang-raped, then murdered. Rescue workers have reported recovering lifeless bodies, naked with their legs spread. Yet some are flat-out denying that these atrocities occurred."

Related: Israeli Man Shares 'Last Happy Moments' in Photos from Music Festival Just Before Hamas Attack (Exclusive)

"Not loudly condemning the rapes of October 7 — or any rapes — is a massive step backward for the women — and men — of the world," she adds. "The silence on these war crimes is deafening. It’s time to see beyond historical arguments about the past and political arguments about the future to denounce this now."

In a video post shared to Instagram, Sandberg elaborated on her frustration, saying, "How can we ignore how these women spent the very last moments of their lives?"

Israel has launched an investigation into sexual violence committed during the attacks, with authorities saying they collected thousands of statements and more than 60,000 video clips taken during the attack, during which an estimated 1,200 Israelis were killed.

Related: Joe Biden Delivers Primetime Address on Israel and Ukraine to Earn Support for War Aid

<p>Shye Weinstein</p> The aftermath of an Israeli music festival that was overrun by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7

Shye Weinstein

The aftermath of an Israeli music festival that was overrun by Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7

Speaking to CNN, human rights law expert Cochav Elkayam-Levy worried that the world had already begun glossing over the rapes as focus shifts to the escalation of the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

“We’ll never know everything that has happened to them,” Elkayam-Levy told CNN. “We know that most women who were raped and who were sexually assaulted were also murdered.”

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In her opinion piece, Sandberg notes that the conflict itself is divisive, but adds that a stance against rape shouldn't be. "We must denounce these rapes in every conversation, at every rally, and on signs held on every street corner. We must forget our conflicting politics and remember our common humanity."

In the wake of the terrorist attacks, Israel vowed to defend itself, calling for the immediate evacuation of 1.1 million civilians in Gaza City ahead of strikes. Since then, more than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed, according to authorities in Gaza (which is controlled by Hamas).

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