Israel report says Hamas attack involved 'systematic' sexual assault

Agence France-Presse
Israel report says Hamas attack involved 'systematic' sexual assault
Palestinian militants transport a reportedly captured Israeli woman by motorcycle, in Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip, on Oct. 7, 2023. Palestinian militants had begun a "war" against Israel which they infiltrated by air, sea and land from the blockaded Gaza Strip on October 7, Israeli officials said, a major escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

JERUSALEM, unidentified — The October 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel involved systematic and deliberate sexual assaults on civilians, a report released by an Israeli group said on Wednesday.

Israeli officials have repeatedly alleged that the militants committed violent sexual assaults such as gang rapes and genital mutilation during the unprecedented attack.

But the scarcity of survivor testimonies and the lack of forensic evidence make it difficult to assess their scale. The Palestinian movement Hamas has categorically denied these allegations.

On Wednesday, the Association of Rape Crisis Centres in Israel, an umbrella body that fights sexual violence, said that sexual assaults on October 7 matched "patterns of wartime sexual violence documented in literature".

The assaults occurred in each of the attack areas -- the Nova music festival, private homes in kibbutzim around the Gaza Strip, military bases and on hostages abducted during the attack, it said in a report.

They were "carried out systematically and deliberately towards Israeli civilians," said the report, which was based on witness testimonies, public and classified information, and interviews.

It did not have testimonies of victims themselves.

"Many of the rapes were carried out as a group, with the participation of violent terrorists," the report said.

One survivor from the Nova festival attack described the aftermath of the assault at the event as an "apocalypse of bodies".

The report, which contained graphic descriptions, said mutilation also occurred on men.


Eyewitness accounts have multiplied in the media from survivors of the Nova festival where around 3,000 young people had gathered less than 10 kilometres (six miles) from the Gaza border when the attack occurred.

In the attack on the festival itself, 364 people lost their lives.

In kibbutz Beeri, where dozens of residents were killed, rescuers found "bodies with signs of sexual assault", the report said.

At an army base that came under attack, one military officer said there were clear signs of sexual violence on at least 10 female soldiers, it added.

Testimonies of hostages freed from captivity also indicated that captives faced a similar ordeal.

Chen and Agam Goldstein, who were released after 51 days, noted that they encountered "at least three female hostages who suffered sexual assault during captivity," the report said.

Testimonies and information provided indicated that such assaults occurred in front of audiences, including family members, community members or other relatives, it added.

The October 7 attack resulted in the deaths of around 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

Since then Israel's retaliatory military offensive in Gaza has killed at least 29,313 people, mostly women and children, according to the territory's health ministry.

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