11 indicted for alleged Eilat gang rape, several of them minors

Four suspects accused of rape, others of indecent acts and failure to help victim, who says she was assaulted in hotel room while intoxicated

Screen capture from video of one of the suspects in a gang rape in Eilat arriving at the Beersheba District Court, September 3, 2020. (Channel 13 news)
Screen capture from video of one of the suspects in a gang rape in Eilat arriving at the Beersheba District Court, September 3, 2020. (Channel 13 news)

Prosecutors filed indictments Wednesday against 11 suspects for the alleged gang rape of a teenage girl last month, with more charges expected to be brought later against others.

The group of defendants charged at the Beersheba District Court includes both adults and minors.

Four suspects were charged with rape and the rest with other crimes including committing an indecent act, abetting a rape, conspiracy to commit a crime and failing to assist the 16-year-old alleged victim.

Of the four rape suspects, two are men aged 27 from the northern city of Hadera — named Wednesday as Isi Raphaelov and Ilizir Meirov — and the other two are teenage brothers from a community in the south of the country.

“The defendants treated the plaintiff as an object, as a tool to satisfy their desires and none of the defendants tried to stop what was happening and provide any sort of help,” a statement from prosecutors said.

According to the indictment, Raphaelov and Meirov broke into a room at the Red Sea Hotel and brought the girl there while she was drunk, with Raphaelov claiming he was a medic and offering to help her.

“Afterwards, the defendants, for an hour, one after another brutally committed sexual offenses against the girl, while losing their humanity and with demonstrated disregard for her distress, until the the girl was taken out of the room by another defendant at the request of her friend,” the indictment said.

Prosecutors are expected to file further indictments against other suspects in the case, Hebrew media reported.

During the hearing, a crowd of demonstrators gathered outside the courthouse calling for justice to be served.

At least 16 people are suspected of being involved in the incident, which shocked the country and prompted calls for reform, after an initial investigation indicated that as many as 30 men had lined up outside the hotel room to wait their turn to rape the 16-year-old, while eyewitnesses failed to intervene.

The manager of the Red Sea Hotel, where the incident happened and who had been arrested during an initial investigation and then later released, was not charged. Channel 13 reported that police have determined she had not been aware of what was going on.

Eilat’s Red Sea Hotel, where an alleged gang rape took place in mid-August 2020. (Channel 12 screenshot)

The Kan public broadcaster reported that investigators have determined that the alibi given by the main suspect — one of the two 27-year-olds, who has a history of violent crime — was found to be untrue, including evidence contradicting his claim that he did not have intercourse with the girl. It was the main suspect who also initially told police that 30 men were involved in the assault, Kan said.

The alleged victim is still distraught about what happened, according to Hebrew media reports, and has not attended school since the academic year began on Tuesday.

Channel 12 reported that the victim’s attorney, Shani Moran, said the girl told her she was waiting until the indictment was filed before deciding what to do next.

During a hearing Tuesday, police revealed more details of the case, telling the court that the main suspect had lured the girl to the hotel room by falsely claiming to be a helpful medic offering to assist her as she was intoxicated to the point of being almost incapacitated.

The girl, who cannot be named in media, arrived at the Red Sea Hotel in the southern resort city on August 10, along with another girl, to visit friends staying there.

While she was in the hotel pool, the main suspect — with whom she had no previous acquaintance — reportedly made romantic advances toward her, which were rejected, with the girl saying he was too old, according to police.

Several hours later, when the girl felt unwell after consuming alcohol, the man allegedly told her he was a medic and offered to help her. He then took her to room 216. According to media reports, the room was not that of the suspect but rather one used by intercity bus drivers to rest after bringing passengers to Eilat.

Investigators believe that after the girl entered the room, he raped her. Over the next hour and a half, at least 16 adults and minors were seen gathering outside the room, with some encouraging each other to go inside.

Police said those involved took advantage of the girl’s intoxicated condition rather than trying to help her and sent text messages to friends inviting them to join in the assault.

An Israeli woman holds a placard at a demonstration in Tel Aviv on August 23, 2020, to denounce sexual violence against women following the alleged gang-rape of a 16-year-old girl in Eilat. (Jack Guez/AFP)

According to police, on the following day the girl was unable to remember what had happened and only began to suspect she had been assaulted when she received text messages from two of the men involved, detailing what had happened and indicating that they had phone camera video footage of the incident.

Together with her friend, she then immediately went to police.

On Monday, police reiterated to the court that investigators had found the teenage victim’s version of events to be credible. Investigators had obtained “digital evidence,” including videos taken of the alleged rape and cellphone location data.

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