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Police investigate alleged gang rape of girl, 16, by more than 30 men in Eilat

2 suspects arrested; video evidence said to document alleged assault; suspect claims teen called men into hotel room one by one; friend says girl was drunk, taken advantage of

Aerial view of the southern Israeli city of Eilat, October 21, 2015. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)
Illustrative: Aerial view of the southern city of Eilat, October 21, 2015. (Moshe Shai/FLASH90)

Police said on Wednesday they opened an investigation after a 16-year-old girl said she was gang-raped by a group of over 30 men while vacationing at a hotel in Eilat.

The teenager made the police complaint on Friday. A suspect was detained  on Wednesday, and his remand was extended for five days at the Ashkelon Magistrate’s Court. Channel 12 news reported that the suspect was a 27-year-old man from the north of the country.

A second suspect, also 27, from Hadera, was arrested on Thursday morning, according to Hebrew-language media reports. He was scheduled to be brought to court later on Thursday for a hearing.

The TV network reported the teenage girl went to the southern resort city earlier this month with a friend, where they met a group of the friend’s acquaintances. They all went out to drink together and at one point came back to a room in a hotel.

The teenager and her friend say that this is when the girl was raped by the men, one after the other.

The suspect was arrested after messages between him and the teenager revealed there was video documentation of the alleged assault. He denied communicating with the girl, saying someone else was using his phone.

The suspect said that more than 30 men had sex with the girl, but that documentation from security cameras would prove that it was not done under duress — that the men stood in line at the entrance to the room while the girl, intoxicated, called for them to come to her one by one.

Police said the teenager’s friend tried to help her, but was unable to.

The girl’s friend reportedly told investigators that one of the suspects “said he was a medic and wanted to help” when it was clear that the girl was under the influence of alcohol.

The suspect “took advantage of her and slept with her when she was out of control,” the friend said, according to Channel 13 news.

Nine out of 10 rape cases in Israel are closed by prosecutors without charge, according to an annual survey released at the end of last year, which also found a significant increase in reports of sexual assault and harassment to the authorities.

The report by the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel found that in 2018 police opened 6,220 investigations into alleged sex crimes and harassment, including 1,166 of suspected rape, marking a 12% increase as compared to the previous year and a 40% rise from 2013.

Amid a rise in high-profile gang rape cases in schools, the report found that most victims (63%) of reported gang rapes in 2018 were girls between the ages of 12 and 18.

A British teenager convicted of falsely accusing a group of Israelis of gang rape, covers her face as she arrives with her mother to the Famagusta District Court, in Paralimni in eastern Cyprus on January 7, 2020. (Iakovos HATZISTAVROU / AFP)

Last year a group of Israeli men and teens were arrested in Cyprus after a British woman said they gang-raped her at the Ayia Napa holiday resort on the east Mediterranean island.

The British tourist was found guilty of lying about the alleged attack but has stood by her account of the 2019 incident, saying Cypriot police gave her no choice other than to retract her claim.

All 12 of the Israelis were initially arrested but released after police said the woman retracted the rape allegations.

They all returned to Israel and were greeted with scenes of celebration that many commentators deemed inappropriate under the circumstances.

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