In the aftermath of the October 7 attacks in southern Israel by Hamas, a disturbing pattern of sexual violence against women has been revealed, according to a comprehensive two-month investigation by The New York Times.
Israeli police, relying on video evidence, believe that Gal Abdush, a mother of two, was raped and murdered during a massacre at a rave.
The investigation identified seven locations where Israeli women and girls were subjected to sexual assault and mutilation, including military bases along the Gaza border and Kibbutzim.
Witnesses, medical personnel, soldiers, and rape counselors were interviewed, providing a grim picture of gender-based violence on October 7.
Graphic scenes were described, including women raped and killed at different locations along Route 232, the highway where Gal Abdush’s body was found.
The New York Times viewed disturbing photographs and videos, revealing the brutality of the attacks. Hamas has denied accusations of sexual violence, leading to outrage among Israeli activists.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and UN Women faced criticism for not promptly acknowledging the accusations.
The chaotic events of October 7 posed challenges for the Israeli police in collecting forensic evidence from women’s bodies.
Hasty burials, driven by chaos, grief, and religious duties, left many bodies unexamined, leaving families searching for answers. The lack of autopsies and crime scene examinations further complicated the investigation.
Forensic evidence collection faced hurdles typical in cases of widespread sexual violence during conflicts, as armed conflicts prioritize safety over building criminal cases. Adil Haque, a Rutgers law professor and war crimes expert, highlighted the challenges, emphasizing that sex crime cases are often prosecuted years later based on victim and witness testimony.
One key witness, Sapir, provided graphic testimony supported by photographs, describing the brutalization of women by heavily armed gunmen.
Other witnesses recounted horrifying scenes, including rape, mutilation, and brutal killings.
Israeli police, despite obstacles, continue to uncover evidence of sexual violence. Deputy Superintendent Moshe Fintzy highlighted the recovery of videos showing women being brutalized, emphasizing the dual forces of anti-Semitism and misogyny at play.
Re-reported from the article originally published in The NDTV News