Rape and sexual assault took place during Hamas attack, Israeli association says

21 February 2024, 13:04

Anemone wildflowers bloom in Re’im, southern Israel, at the site of a cross-border attack by Hamas on the Nova music festival where hundreds of people were killed and kidnapped into the Gaza Strip (Ma
Israel Palestinians Flowers. Picture: PA

Hamas has rejected allegations that its gunmen committed sexual assault.

The Association of Rape Crisis Centres in Israel says it found evidence of “systematic and intentional” rape and sexual abuse during the Hamas attack on October 7 that ignited the war in Gaza.

The report said that “in some cases, rape was conducted in front of an audience, such as partners, family, or friends, to increase the pain and humiliation for all present”.

Orit Sulitzeanu, the executive director of the association, said that in many cases the bodies of male and female victims, including their genitals, were severely mutilated.

Israeli soldiers walk through a carpet of red anemone wildflowers in bloom in Re’im, southern Israel, at the site of a cross-border attack by Hamas during the Nova music festival where hundreds of revellers were killed and kidnapped into the Gaza Strip (Maya Alleruzzo/AP)
Israeli soldiers walk through a carpet of red anemone wildflowers in Re’im, southern Israel, at the site of the October 7 cross-border attack by Hamas (Maya Alleruzzo/AP)

The report, published on Wednesday, did not specify the number of cases it had documented or identify any victims, even anonymously.

Ms Sulitzeanu said such determinations were difficult because many of the victims were killed after being assaulted, and emergency personnel were so overwhelmed by the scale of death and destruction that they did not document signs of sexual abuse.

The report’s authors said they based their research on confidential and public interviews with officials and emergency personnel, as well as media reports.

Ms Sulitzeanu said they also relied on “confidential sources”, but declined to say whether they had spoken to victims.

An Associated Press investigation also found that sexual assault was part of an atrocity-filled rampage by Hamas and other militants who killed about 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and took around 250 hostages on October 7.

Hamas has rejected allegations that its gunmen committed sexual assault.

According to the Israeli report, which was submitted to the United Nations and UN investigators carrying out a similar investigation, the sexual and gender-based violence occurred in four main places – the Nova music festival, communities near the Gaza border, Israeli military bases that were overrun by Hamas and places where hostages were held in Gaza.

Ms Sulitzeanu said the purpose of the report was to document how the sexual violence was similar across multiple sites, indicating it was organised and directed by Hamas.

The association represents multiple rape crisis centres across Israel.

By Press Association

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