Recalls being strung up 'like a chicken,' tortured

Released hostage Amit Soussana recounts sexual assault at hands of Hamas captor

In interview with New York Times, freed captive becomes first to speak out publicly on sexual abuse, says she was forced at gunpoint to commit ‘a sexual act’ on guard

Amit Soussana, taken captive by Hamas terrorists from her home in Kibbutz Kfar Aza on October 7, 2023 and released on November 30, 2023. (Courtesy)
Amit Soussana, taken captive by Hamas terrorists from her home in Kibbutz Kfar Aza on October 7, 2023 and released on November 30, 2023. (Courtesy)

Released hostage Amit Soussana, 40, was sexually assaulted and attacked by her Hamas guard during her captivity in Gaza, she told The New York Times in an interview published Tuesday, marking the first time a freed hostage has spoken publicly about experiencing sexual abuse.

Soussana, who was released from captivity on the last day of a weeklong truce in late November, recounted to the newspaper how she was held alone, chained up in a child’s bedroom in darkness where she was forced to commit sexual acts for her Hamas captor, who she said went by the name Muhammad.

Sometime around October 24, he attacked her while she was briefly unchained in order to use the bathroom, she recounted.

“He came towards me and shoved the gun at my forehead,” Soussana said. “He sat me on the edge of the bath. And I closed my legs. And I resisted. And he kept punching me and put his gun in my face,” Soussana stated. “Then he dragged me to the bedroom.”

She recounted being forced to remove her towel while Muhammad groped her, before being marched at gunpoint back to the bedroom, where he forced her to “commit a sexual act on him.”

The Times added that Soussana’s account of what happened is consistent with reports viewed by the newspaper that she gave to medical professionals and a social worker immediately following her release.

Amit Soussana, right, embraced by a friend in front of her destroyed house in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, January 29, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Dr. Julia Barda, the social worker who spoke to Soussana upon her release, told the newspaper that the freed hostage “spoke immediately, fluently and in detail, not only about her sexual assault, but also about the many other ordeals she experienced.”

Her account is the first time that a released hostage has publicly spoken about being sexually assaulted by Hamas terrorists while in captivity.

Soussana said that in the lead-up to the assault, her guard asked personal questions, including questioning her about her sex life, and asking when her period was due. When it ended around October 18 after only a day, she said she tried to delay him by lying that it continued for nearly a week.

“Every day, he would ask: ‘Did you get your period? Did you get your period? When you get your period, when it will be over, you will wash, you will take a shower and you will wash your clothes,'” she recounted him saying to her in captivity.

The freed hostage also said he would visit her in the room, lift her shirt, and touch her.

After he sexually assaulted her, Soussana said the guard told her, “I’m bad, I’m bad, please don’t tell Israel,” as if to show remorse. She rejected initial offers of food, but eventually relented in order to appease her abusive captor.

“You can’t stand looking at him — but you have to: He’s the one who’s protecting you, he’s your guard,” Soussana stated. “You’re there with him and you know that every moment it can happen again. You’re completely dependent on him.”

Amit Soussana (in purple), released by Hamas on November 30, 2023, is reunited with her mother and sister at Wolfson Medical Center. (Courtesy: Wolfson)

Soussana also described how she was tortured a few days after being moved to a different apartment bloc, where she was handed over to a man called Amir, and was held with four other hostages.

Soussana said her head was wrapped in a pink shirt by guards, then forced to sit on the floor where guards pummeled her with the butt of a gun. Then, her hands were tied and hung up “like a chicken” from a stick linking two couches, causing immense pain.

Soussana said the guards continued to beat her, focusing on the soles of her feet while interrogating her for information they thought she was hiding. She stated the chief guard pretended to poke her with a spike, pulling away right before it hit her eye.

“It was like that for 45 minutes or so,” she recounted. “They were hitting me and laughing and kicking me, and called the other hostages to see me.” One of the other hostages became so frightened after a guard threatened to kill Soussana if she didn’t provide information, that she asked Soussana if she had any final messages for her family.

Earlier this month, the United Nations published a report indicating that rape and gang rape likely occurred during the October 7 Hamas terror onslaught, and said that there is “clear and convincing” evidence showing that hostages were raped while being held in Gaza, and that those currently held captive are still facing such abuse.

Soussana spoke to the UN investigator who issued the report during her visit to Israel in late January.

View of the destruction caused by Hamas terrorists in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, southern Israel, seen on October 15, 2023. (Edi Israel/Flash90)

President Isaac Herzog praised Soussana for her testimony, stating that she “speaks for all those who cannot speak,” in a post on X.

“She speaks for all the victims of Hamas’s despicable sexual crimes and abuse. She speaks for all women everywhere. The whole world has the moral duty to stand with Amit — and all the victims — in condemning Hamas’s brutal terror, and in demanding the immediate return of all the hostages,” he wrote.

IDF spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Tuesday evening that Soussana’s interview was “very important and brave.”

“Amit’s courage, and her choice to share this difficult testimony with the world, is worthy of deep appreciation,” said Hagari. “Amit is a true hero. Her testimony is another reminder of the obligation of the IDF and the security services to work in every manner to bring home all the 134 hostages home.”

Basem Naim, a spokesperson for Hamas, sent a 1,300-word response to the Times stating that it was impossible to investigate Soussana’s testimony under “the current circumstances,” while expressing skepticism over the account.

Naim said it was “difficult to believe the story unless it was designed by some security officers,” questioning why Soussana had only come forward months after her release.

Amit Soussana seen fighting against Hamas kidnappers dragging her into Gaza on October 7, 2023. (Screenshot used in accordance with clause 27a of the copyright law)

Amit was kidnapped from Kfar Aza, one of the kibbutzim targeted on October 7 when Hamas-led terrorists burst across the Gaza border and murdered close to 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took 253 hostages.

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