WASHINGTON, Dec 5 — A deal to pause the Gaza war broke down in part because Hamas forces did not want Israeli women hostages to reveal what happened to them, a US official said Monday.

Israel had paused its offensive in Gaza as part of a US- and Qatari-brokered deal to free hostages seized by the Hamas during a lethal raid into Israel on October 7.

Israel on Friday said it was resuming the military campaign as Hamas had not released all kidnapped women.

“It seems one of the reasons they don’t want to turn women over that they’ve been holding hostage and the reason this pause fell apart is they don’t want those women to be able to talk about what happened to them during their time in custody,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.

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Miller, citing sensitivities in discussing treatment of captives, declined to give details but said that the United States had “no reason to doubt” reports of sexual violence by Hamas.

“There is very little that I would put beyond Hamas when it comes to its treatment of civilians and particularly its treatment of women,” Miller said.

Israeli police have also been exploring evidence of sexual violence during the October 7 attack itself, when Hamas extremists killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, according to an Israeli count.

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A senior police officer recently told Israel’s parliament that an inquiry has gathered more than 1,500 testimonies. Allegations include gang rape and post-mortem mutilation.

Campaigners have derided what they see as a muted international response to gender-based violence during the attack.

Israeli attacks since October 7 have killed nearly 15,900 people in Gaza, about 70 percent of them women and children, according to the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry. — AFP