Investigating Hamas Using Rape as a weapon of war

Nov 25, 2023 | Hostages, Read Now

The first indications of possible sexual violence came as early as Oct. 7, the day that thousands of Hamas and other fighters streamed into Israeli towns and began live-streaming bloodshed and torture.

Footage showed several women stripped of their clothing. One video showed a woman, her hands zip-tied behind her back, with blood on the crotch of her pants.

Later came testimony from witnessesand first responders. One witness described in graphic detail a gang rape at the Nova rave site near Re’im. An Israeli reserve combat paramedic told The Post that he found the bodies of teenage girls with signs of sexual assault.

Combatants from Gaza overran 22 Israeli communities, killed at least 1,200 and took 240 hostage in the surprise attack. But their greater goal, sexual trauma specialists say, was to introduce terror against women — and children and other unarmed civilians — as a means of spreading fear.

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The Israeli commission, established by Elkayam-Levy,is working to compile a comprehensive database of the assault that day, based on the testimonies of survivors, witnesses, medical examiners, first responders, police and militants themselves, many of whom participated first from behind the camera, as they recorded their actions, and later in front of the camera, as they were interrogated by Israeli security forces.

That’s in addition to the investigation by Israel’s police in coordination with the military and Shin Beit, the internal security service. The agencies have been building a case on charges of mass murder, rape, torture and bodily mutilation.

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“There was humiliation through rape on the morning of Oct. 7,” Israeli Police Chief Kobi Shabtai said.

“There was worse evidence that we were not able to show,” he said. “They cut limbs and genitals, they raped, they abused corpses. There were sadistic sexual acts.” It’s unclear whether authorities have accounts directly from rape survivors.

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“There is always underreporting in sexual violence,” said Orit Sulitzeanu, who runs the Association of Rape Crisis Centers, based in Tel Aviv. “But with war crimes we know there will be extreme underreporting.”

Under those conditions, first responders and morgue workers have become a key source of information.

View in this Washington Post article reported by Shira Rubin