JERUSALEM (AP) — A person hiding in a pit through the Oct. 7 Hamas assault on an out of doors music pageant in Israel mentioned he heard somebody close by screaming she was being raped. Elsewhere within the space, a fight paramedic noticed the physique of a younger girl along with her legs open, her pants pulled down, and what regarded like semen on her decrease again. A military reservist who was tasked with figuring out these killed by the militants mentioned a few of the girls have been discovered sporting solely bloodied underwear.

Such accounts given to The Related Press, together with first assessments by an Israeli rights group, present that sexual assault was a part of an atrocities-filled rampage by Hamas and different Gaza militants who killed about 1,200 folks, most of them civilians, and took greater than 240 hostages that day.

Whereas investigators are nonetheless making an attempt to find out the scope of the sexual assaults, Israel’s authorities is accusing the worldwide neighborhood, notably the United Nations, of ignoring the ache of Israeli victims.

“I say to the ladies’s rights organizations, to the human rights organizations, you’ve heard of the rape of Israeli girls, horrible atrocities, sexual mutilation — the place the hell are you?” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed a information convention Tuesday, switching to English to emphasise the purpose.

U.S. President Joe Biden referred to as the stories of sexual violence “appalling” and urged the world to sentence “horrific accounts of unimaginable cruelty.”

Two months after the Hamas assaults on the music pageant, farming communities and military posts in southern Israel, police are nonetheless struggling to place collectively the items.

Within the fast aftermath of the assaults, precedence was given to figuring out our bodies, to not preserving proof. Police say they’re combing by way of 60,000 movies seized from the physique cameras of Hamas attackers, from social media and from safety cameras in addition to 1,000 testimonies to deliver the perpetrators to justice. It has been troublesome discovering rape survivors, with many victims killed by their attackers.

The group Physicians for Human Rights in Israel, which has a file of advocating for Palestinian civilians in Gaza struggling underneath Israel’s longtime blockade of the territory, revealed an preliminary evaluation in November.

“What we all know for certain is that it was greater than only one case and it was widespread, in that this occurred in multiple location and greater than a handful of instances,” Hadas Ziv, coverage and ethics director for the group, mentioned Tuesday. “What we don’t know and what the police are investigating is whether or not it was ordered to be executed and whether or not it was systematic.”

Hamas has rejected allegations that its gunmen dedicated sexual assault.


Ron Freger fled the music pageant when Hamas attacked and mentioned he heard a girl screaming for assist. “I used to be mendacity in a pit (and) I heard (a woman) yelling: ‘They’re raping me, they’re raping me!’” he instructed the AP.

A number of minutes later, he heard gunshots shut by and he or she fell silent, he mentioned. “The sensation in that second is considered one of full powerlessness. I’m mendacity on this gap and I’ve no potential to do something. I’ve no weapon, I’ve nothing, I’m surrounded by different people who find themselves hiding with me and we’re fully powerless,” mentioned the 23-year-old from the northern Israeli city of Netanya.

Final month, Israel’s police chief introduced to the worldwide information media videotaped testimony of a rape witness on the music pageant. Her face blurred, she mentioned she watched militants gang-rape a girl as she lay on the bottom. The boys then stood her up as blood trickled from her again, yanked her hair and sliced her breast, enjoying with it as they assaulted her. The final man shot her within the head whereas he was nonetheless inside her. The girl within the video described watching the militants as she pretended to be lifeless.

“I couldn’t perceive what I noticed,” she mentioned.

A fight medic instructed the AP that he got here throughout half a dozen our bodies of men and women with doable indicators of sexual assault when he reached one of many attacked communities.

One lady had been shot within the head and was mendacity on the ground, her legs open and pants pulled down, with what regarded like semen on her decrease again, mentioned the medic who spoke on situation of anonymity as a result of his unit was categorised. Different our bodies had mass bleeding across the groin with limbs at distorted angles, he mentioned.

On the Shura navy base the place victims are being recognized, Shari Mendes, a member of the military reserve unit that offers with the identification and spiritual burial preparation of feminine troopers, mentioned a few of the girls’s our bodies got here in with little clothes, resembling elements of their pajamas. Some solely had bloodied underwear.


Primarily based on open-source data and interviews, the Physicians for Human Rights in Israel report paperwork incidents on the music pageant, properties across the Gaza Strip and an Israeli navy base, all attacked by Hamas.

“It’s changing into extra obvious that the violence perpetrated in opposition to girls, males and youngsters additionally included widespread sexual and gender-based crimes,” it says.

Earlier than this battle, Hamas, an Islamic militant group sworn to Israel’s destruction, wasn’t identified to make use of rape as a weapon, mentioned Colin P. Clarke, director of analysis at The Soufan Group, a world intelligence and safety consulting agency. Its ways included suicide bombings and taking pictures assaults on Israeli troopers and civilians.

A rustic like Israel ought to have the means to do rigorous testing to verify if folks have been sexually assaulted in a extra systematic means, mentioned Nidhi Kapur, a specialist on sexual abuse in conditions of armed battle.

“Forensic testing ought to have been a precedence to construct a full image of the assault,” mentioned Kapur, who has labored within the area. “In a battle you first care for the survivors, you don’t depend our bodies.”

On Tuesday, Netanyahu and members of his battle cupboard held a tense and emotional assembly with just lately launched hostages and members of the family of hostages nonetheless held in Gaza. A number of the just lately launched hostages shared testimonies of sexual abuse throughout their time in Gaza, contributors mentioned.

Individually, a physician who handled a few of the 110 launched hostages instructed the AP that at the very least 10 women and men amongst these freed have been sexually assaulted or abused, however didn’t present additional particulars. He spoke on situation of anonymity to guard the hostages’ identities.

In keeping with the Israeli navy, 138 hostages, together with 15 girls, are nonetheless held by Hamas and different militant teams in Gaza. Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, a navy spokesman, mentioned the military is “completely” involved about sexual violence in opposition to feminine hostages.


On Monday, Israel hosted a particular occasion on the United Nations, the place former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and high know-how government Sheryl Sandberg have been amongst those that criticized what they referred to as a world failure to help girls who have been sexually assaulted and in some instances killed.

However some teams say Israel is not making it straightforward to analyze.

The Workplace of the U.N. Excessive Commissioner for Human Rights mentioned it requested entry to Israel and the Palestinian territories to permit it to gather data from the occasions that happened on Oct. 7 and eight, and since then, however Israel has not responded to its requests, mentioned Ravina Shamdasani, spokesperson for the U.N. Human Rights Workplace.

Israel says the workplace has preexisting biases in opposition to Israel and it’ll not cooperate with the physique. Israeli officers mentioned they might think about all choices for impartial worldwide mechanisms to analyze.

Rights specialists say the United Nations is greatest positioned to conduct a good, credible and neutral investigation.

“These accounts are horrifying and deserve an pressing, thorough, and credible investigation,” mentioned Heather Barr, affiliate director for the ladies’s rights division at Human Rights Watch.


Related Press reporters Melanie Lidman, Julia Frankel and Isabel DeBre in Jerusalem; and Edith M. Lederer on the United Nations contributed to this report.

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