Main suspect in Eilat gang rape lured teen by saying he was a medic — police

11 suspects to be indicted on Wednesday in case that shocked the country and sparked nationwide protests

Screen capture from video of one of the suspects in the alleged gang rape of a teenage girl in Eilat, seen in the Ashkelon Magistrate's Court. (Channel 13)
Screen capture from video of one of the suspects in the alleged gang rape of a teenage girl in Eilat, seen in the Ashkelon Magistrate's Court. (Channel 13)

The main suspect in an alleged gang rape of a teenage girl last month allegedly lured her to an Eilat hotel room by posing as a helpful medic, according to new details released by police on Tuesday.

The man, 27, from the northern city of Hadera, is one of four suspects who are expected to be charged with rape on Wednesday. One of the others is another 27-year-old, also from Hadera, along with two teenage brothers from the south of the country.

Seven more suspects, some of them minors, are expected to face charges of indecent assault, abetting a rape, criminal conspiracy and failure to prevent a crime.

“This is a complicated and sensitive case in which there was great importance to reach the truth of the matter,” said Southern District Police Deputy Commissioner Yoram Sofer.

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 at the location.

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

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

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 of the hotel.

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.

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.

The manager of the hotel was questioned and placed under arrest last week on suspicion of failing to prevent a crime and interfering in a police investigation. She was later released to house arrest, and there is no immediate indication whether or not she will face charges.

Israelis take part in a demonstration in support of the 16-year-old victim of an alleged gang rape in Eilat, in Haifa on August 20, 2020. (Flash90)

The case shocked the country and spurred calls for reforms. Initial testimony from the suspects in the alleged rape indicated that as many as 30 men had lined up outside the hotel room to wait their turn to rape her, while eyewitnesses failed to intervene.

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.

Forensic evidence had also been obtained from the scene in the hotel room that tied several suspects to the place and corroborated the girl’s account.

Police also told Channel 12 the victim feared that videos taken by the suspects and shared with their friends would become public. Unit 105, the police’s cyber investigation team, was put on the case. The unit tracked the dissemination chain of the videos and confiscated all devices that contained copies. Officers believe they have stopped the “chain of transmission,” they said, though there was no way to be absolutely certain.

Police have said that over 20 officers are working on the case.

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