Former hostage tells lawmakers fellow captive was sexually abused by guard

Aviva Siegel also recounts seeing a woman tortured in Gaza, days after freed teen Agam Goldstein-Almog tells of encounter with girls who had been sexually assaulted

Released Israeli hostage Aviva Siegel hugs Sigalit Cohen, mother of hostage Eliya Cohen, in the Knesset on January 9, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Released Israeli hostage Aviva Siegel hugs Sigalit Cohen, mother of hostage Eliya Cohen, in the Knesset on January 9, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A woman held in Gaza for over 50 days said Tuesday that she saw signs that a fellow hostage had been sexually abused by a guard, adding to a growing body of evidence that Hamas weaponized sexual assault and may still be violating victims in captivity.

Aviva Siegel, who was kidnapped from Kibbutz Kfar Aza on October 7, also told the Knesset’s Caucus for the Hostages that she had personally witnessed another hostage being tortured during her time in captivity, urging that more be done to win the freedom of the captives, including her husband Keith, who remains in Gaza.

Siegel, 62, told the caucus that at one point in their captivity, a younger female hostage returned from using the bathroom and looked distraught. But when she attempted to give the girl a hug, a terrorist guarding them intercepted her and prevented the embrace.

“I saw that she was withdrawn, quiet and not herself,” Siegel said. “And excuse my language, but this son of a bitch had touched her. And he didn’t even let me hug her after it happened. It’s terrible, simply terrible. I told her I was sorry.”

She did not name the hostage she believed had been sexually abused.

Seigel told the caucus, which was holding its first meeting Tuesday, of a second female hostage who was tortured by her captors after being accused of being an officer in the IDF.

Relatives of hostages attend a meeting at the Knesset on January 9, 2024. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“They tortured her next to me. And I witnessed it. I witnessed what happened there. What’s happening there is simply a catastrophe. It can’t go on,” she said.

“There were millions of stories like these,” she said. “I can go on for a week.”

Siegel was released in late November, among 105 civilians freed as part of a truce deal. Still in captivity in Gaza are 132 hostages seized on October 7, including a number of people who were killed in captivity or in Hamas attacks.

Agam Goldstein-Almog, 17, speaks to Channel 12 about her family’s ordeal of 51 days as hostages in Gaza, in a segment aired on December 22, 20023. (Screenshot, Channel 12, used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

In testimony screened at a weekly rally on behalf of the hostages Saturday night, 17-year-old Agam Goldstein-Almog, who was kidnapped with her mother and younger brothers on October 7, said that at one point they were moved into a tunnel were there were six women who were being held alone.

“Many girls underwent severe sexual abuse,” she said. “They had serious and complex wounds that were not being cared for.”

The plight of women and girls still being held in Gaza was also brought to the fore earlier this week when the UK’s Daily Mail tabloid published pictures of four female captives with bloodied faces on Sunday.

An inside page from the Daily Mail, January 8, 2024.

Testimony from witnesses, first responders, medical personnel and others have pointed to numerous cases of victims being sexually abused during the October 7 attack, during which thousands of Hamas terrorists rampaged through southern Israel, killing some 1,200 people and taking 240 hostages into Gaza.

An exhaustive New York Times investigation published late last month detailed systematic sexual violence during the attack, including rape, mutilation and torture. Officials have previously indicated concerns that some of the women being held by Hamas may be subjected to continuing sexual assault.

Police are painstakingly putting together the extensive documentation of rape, and last week the state’s child protective services unit opened its own investigation into allegations of abuse, the Walla news site reported Tuesday.

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