A veteran Israeli journalist apologized Sunday after coming under fire for mocking the victim of an alleged gang rape committed by Israelis in Cyprus.
Twelve Israeli teenagers, some of them minors, have been detained in the east Mediterranean island nation, suspected of the alleged gang rape of a 19-year-old British woman. Cypriot police on Saturday questioned five of them, including a main suspect, according to Hebrew-language media.
The alleged rape occurred early Wednesday at the Pambos Napa Rocks Hotel in Ayia Napa, where the young woman and the Israelis were staying separately.
On Thursday, Roni Daniel, an army correspondent and commentator for Channel 12 news, took part in a discussion of the case on the 103FM radio station, alongside Channel 13 journalist Doron Herman.
Herman cited local police as saying that during the week the victim had consensual sexual intercourse with three of the suspects, but “on the last night she woke up in one of the rooms with twelve Israelis, not the two or three she knew.”
At that point Daniel interjected and said: “Oh, she was used to two or three, and all of a sudden twelve, that’s the breaking point?”
That remark enraged many listeners, and more than 700 complaints against Daniel were sent to the Second Authority for Television and Radio after the show.
Social media users also expressed outrage, as did women’s rights organizations.
“Roni Daniel mocks a victim of gang rape, and with an arrogant and violent slip of the tongue says that a woman who willingly entered a sexual relationship with a certain person is permitted to all the rest,” said the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel.
“That view was terrible and wrong in the 1950s, and in 2019 it simply cannot pass silently. Apart from the endlessly despicable words toward the specific victim, thousands of Israeli women who were hurt hear them echo and justify what they suffered,” it added.
On Sunday, Daniel issued an apology on Twitter.
“A few clarifications: I have never thought of taking a dismissive approach to such a severe incident,” he wrote. “In my eyes rape — be it one person, two or twelve — in all cases is a very grave incident.
“It is the right of any woman to decide with whom to have sexual relations, but the condition is that they are consensual actions with decisions made in sound mind. If I was understood otherwise I have nothing to do but to express regret and apologize.”
The radio station has not commented. Hebrew-language reports said the issue was being probed.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.