Yael Greenberg, victim of notorious 1988 gang rape, dies at age 49

Case of woman who was assaulted by a group of teenagers in Kibbutz Shomrat when she was 14 set a precedent in how such crimes are adjudicated

Excerpt from an interview Yael Greenberg gave in 2022. (Screenshot: Channel 13. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Excerpt from an interview Yael Greenberg gave in 2022. (Screenshot: Channel 13. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Yael Greenberg, the victim of a 1988 gang rape that shocked Israel, died Saturday at the age of 49.

Greenberg’s assault and the subsequent trial were highly publicized and are believed to have set a legal precedent for similar cases in Israel.

The Supreme Court ruling relating to her case famously stated that “when a woman says ‘no’ she means ‘no’ and there is no ‘no’ that is ‘yes.'”

Greenberg was raped repeatedly by a group of teenage boys in Kibbutz Shomrat, where she lived. She was assaulted over four consecutive days, while being forced to go to various locations such as the kibbutz fields or the nearby beach.

In the wake of the assault, her mother convinced her daughter to file a police complaint.

The defendants stood trial but were acquitted by the Haifa District Court, with the judge saying that he could not establish decisively whether the complainant had voiced an explicit refusal to engage in sexual relations with the defendants.

Amid public uproar, the state prosecution filed an appeal to the Supreme Court, asking that the acquittal be overturned. The four defendants — Nadav Biton, Arik Hazon, Ofir Be’eri and Tzafrir Tzvison — were ultimately convicted of rape and sentenced to 12-15 months in prison.

Throughout the years, Greenberg often stated that her life had ended at age 14 and that in the ensuing years, she was merely existing, not living.

Her mental and physical health deteriorated over the years, and she died Saturday of lung disease. She was laid to rest a day later in the northern town of Kiryat Ata.

Greenberg was survived by five daughters and two grandchildren.

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