The United Nations has launched an internal investigation after a video clip was circulated widely last week on social media appearing to show a couple having sex in a U.N. vehicle in Tel Aviv.
In the video, a woman in a red dress is seen straddling a man in the back seat of the vehicle—with a driver and a passenger in the front—on HaYarkon Street, a block away from Tel Aviv’s beachside promenade.
U.N. spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric confirmed to reporters in New York on Friday afternoon that the clip, which is less than 30 seconds long, shows personnel in the car “likely assigned to the U.N. Truce Supervision Organization [UNTSO].”
UNTSO is the Jerusalem-based peace-keeping mission established in 1948 to “monitor ceasefires, supervise armistice agreements and prevent military escalation,” according to the United Nations.
“We are shocked and deeply disturbed by what is seen on the video,” said Dujarric during a regular briefing to U.N correspondents.
“The behavior seen in it is abhorrent and goes against everything that we stand for and having been working to achieve in terms of fighting misconduct by U.N. staff,” Dujarric said of the footage, which was captured by an anonymous source who leaked it to Inner City Press, a news outlet that lost its U.N. accreditation in 2018.
Separately, UNTSO also issued a statement on Friday, asserting, “The Mission stands committed to the Organization’s zero-tolerance policy against any kind of misconduct, including sexual exploitation and abuse, and reminds its personnel of their obligations to the U.N. Code of Conduct. As part of the Secretary-General’s commitment to transparency, we will keep the media informed upon conclusion of the investigation.”
According to the BBC, there were 175 allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation among or against U.N. staff in 2019, of which 16 were substantiated, 15 unsubstantiated and the rest still under investigation.