ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 141

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Graphic report details new evidence of rape, sexual violence during October 7 rampage

Witnesses, volunteers tell UK’s Sunday Times of seeing gang-rape, remains found mutilated, days after UN says it will look into allegations following weeks of international silence

The area of ​​the Supernova festival where hundreds of Israelis were killed and kidnapped by Hamas terrorists in the October 7 terror onslaught, October 12, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)
The area of ​​the Supernova festival where hundreds of Israelis were killed and kidnapped by Hamas terrorists in the October 7 terror onslaught, October 12, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

New eyewitness accounts of the sexual violence enacted by Hamas-led terrorists on October 7 were brought to light in a report published Sunday, bolstering evidence of rape and other atrocities largely doubted or ignored in the international community.

Survivors of Hamas attacks and those tasked with investigating and piecing together what occurred that day shared details of rape and mutilation that they witnessed during and after the devastating terror onslaught with the UK newspaper The Sunday Times.

Yoni Saadon, 39, who survived the Supernova music festival massacre in which some 360 people were killed, told the paper that he hid under dead bodies for several hours to evade being captured and killed by Hamas terrorists. During that time, he said, he witnessed several scenes that he said continue to haunt him when he closes his eyes at night.

At one point, he saw a woman surrounded by “eight or ten fighters beating and raping her” before she was shot and killed.

“When they finished they were laughing,” he told the Sunday Times.

Saadon’s testimony is one of many that emerged following the Hamas-led onslaught on October 7, in which thousands of terrorists burst into Israel from Gaza, killing at least 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking some 240 hostages.

Alongside the devastatingly high death toll and number of hostages, evidence has emerged of the terrorist’s shocking brutality, including families burned alive, babies slaughtered in front of their parents, inhumane torture and other horrors.

Police say they have been exploring evidence of sexual violence, ranging from alleged gang rape to post-mortem mutilation.

Their inquiry has, so far, gathered “more than 1,500 shocking and difficult testimonies,” from witnesses, medics and pathologists, a senior police officer told the Knesset last week.

Zaka personnel collect clothes that belong to the victims of the October 7 Hamas massacre, near the Israeli-Gaza border, southern Israel, November 19, 2023. (Chaim Goldberg/Flash90)

“It was clear they were trying to spread as much horror as they could — to kill, to burn alive, to rape,” said Haim Outmezgine, a senior member of ZAKA rescue services, which has been working around the clock collecting the remains of the dead. “It seemed their mission was to rape as many [people] as possible.”

Corroborating Outmezgine’s account, an architect identified by the Sunday Times only as Shari, described what she had seen during a two-week stint volunteering as part of a group preparing the remains of female victims for burial.

“Opening the body bags was scary as we didn’t know what we would see,” she said. “They were all young women. Most in little clothing or shredded clothing and their bodies bloodied particularly around their underwear and some women shot many times in the face as if to mutilate them.”

“There seems no doubt what happened to them,” she added.

Both Outmezgine’s and Shari’s testimonies included incredibly graphic and upsetting details, which The Times of Israel has decided not to reprint.

International human rights organizations have faced intense scrutiny from public figures and rights organizations in Israel, who have urged them to acknowledge and investigate the testimonies of rape and sexual violence, including the Civil Commission of Oct. 7 Crimes by Hamas Against Women and Children, an Israeli group set up to draw international attention to the crimes of rape and sexual violence committed during the onslaught.

Following seven weeks of silence, the UN on Thursday issued a condemnation and committed to investigating the sexual crimes committed by Hamas.

“There are numerous accounts of sexual violence during the abhorrent acts of terror by Hamas on 7 October that must be vigorously investigated and prosecuted,” United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres wrote on X on November 30, close to eight weeks after the terror onslaught. “Gender-based violence must be condemned. Anytime. Anywhere.”

The tweet went further than similar comments he made a few hours earlier during a briefing to the UN Security Council, which failed to mention Hamas or terrorism and called the actions of October 7 simply “the attacks.”

Israeli soldiers at the forensic center in the Shura military base near Ramle, where hundreds of dead bodies arrived since the October 7 Hamas onslaught, October 24, 2023. (Yossi Aloni/Flash90)

Israeli police investigators have started building several sexual assault cases against Gazan terrorists who participated in the massacres, with the goal of eventually trying them for rape.

The investigation was hampered initially by the fact that physical evidence of sexual assault was broadly not collected on the day of the attacks due to complications posed by the evidence being located in an active warzone.

Rape kits, which need to be used in the first 48 hours following an assault, could not be used, and many of the bodies arriving at the emergency morgue set up at the Shura military base were so badly mutilated that collecting physical evidence of sexual assault, such as semen or DNA samples, was not possible.

Police spokesperson Mirit Ben Mayor said, however, that based on “the conditions of the bodies that came in, bodies in the field, by the stories people are telling, by the situation of the bodies that arrived for forensic checking at Shura, we say that there was rape, that there was sexual [assault]. There is no room for doubt about these events.”

Even as the evidence has continued to be compiled, there are still those who have continued to express doubt concerning the veracity of the eyewitness accounts, suggesting that they are not trustworthy due to coming second-hand.

Many of the women who experienced the sexual assault and rape firsthand, however, were either killed or taken hostage, and so cannot provide the firsthand information that some are demanding.

Dr. Dvora Baumann, director of the Bat Ami Centre for Victims of Sexual Abuse at Hadassah Hospital, explained to the Sunday Times that the lack of firsthand accounts, even from those who survived, can also be chalked up to fear of talking about what happened.

“Usually people who are sexually abused don’t report it for a long time because it is so hard to talk about and they worry they will be judged. We have plenty of evidence,” she said. “I’ve been in this field for over 20 years and I have never heard such horrific things.”

Carrie Keller-Lynn contributed to this report.

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