Israeli report points to “systematic” sexual violence

Hamas attacks in Israel on October 7, 2023 gave rise to sexual violence “systematic” And “premeditated”according to an Israeli report published on Wednesday February 21. This document was written by the Association of Rape Support Centers in Israel (ARCCI), which oversees centers combating sexual violence across the country. He describes these abuses as an integral part of the attacks of October 7, 2023.

In this regard, he emphasizes the “similarities” in all the attacks – on the Nova music festival, on kibbutzim, on military bases and on people who were taken hostage.

Sexual violence was perpetrated there “systematically and deliberately against Israeli civilians”, note document, based on the accounts of witnesses. However, the report does not directly cite victims.

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Rape and mutilation

The text mentions “rapes, many of them in meetings, at gunpoint”. He quotes a survivor of the Nova festival attack who describes “an apocalypse of corpses, of naked girls, sometimes on the upper body, sometimes on the bottom”. A similar testimony was cited in a report from the Israeli organization Physicians for Human Rights, in November 2023.

In Kibbutz Beeri, where ninety residents were killed, rescuers said they found “bodies bearing traces of sexual attack”.

Sexual assaults were also recorded in the attacked military bases, adds the report, which notably cites a soldier deployed on one of them, who said he saw at least ten bodies of female soldiers clearly bearing traces of sexual violence.

Hostages released since also spoke of sexual assault, the report adds. Like Chen and Agam Goldstein, detained for fifty-one days, who after their release said they had encountered “at least three female hostages sexually assaulted during their captivity”.

The text also mentions mutilations of victims, including men.

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Few direct, public accounts from survivors

In the media, witnesses to the Hamas attack reported rape, sexual violence and genital mutilation, sometimes in front of family members, neighbors or relatives of the victim.

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These accusations are the subject of complex investigations in Israel, made difficult by the absence of a post-mortem examination in the chaos of the days following the attack, and while Jewish religious tradition recommends rapid burial of the deceased. .

The UN special representative for sexual violence in conflict, Pramila Patten, visited Israel at the end of January, where she called on women victims of alleged sexual crimes on October 7, 2023 to “break the silence” and to tell what they had suffered.

At the beginning of December, Unicef ​​condemned the “sexual violence” committed against Israeli women that day, a condemnation that Israel considered late and insufficient, because it did not mention, according to it, their perpetrators, the armed men of Hamas.

Israeli officials have accused Hamas of increasing sexual assaults there, including rape and genital mutilation, which the Palestinian movement has always denied. The lack of direct and public accounts from survivors and the absence of forensic expertise has not yet made it possible to draw a clear picture of these abuses and their scale.

Also read the report | Article reserved for our subscribers Gaza: more than a hundred days after October 7, the living trauma of Israeli society, still deaf to the deadly consequences of the war

The World with AFP

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