Police Lachish Sub-District Commander Ronen Avnieli on Sunday said nine under-age suspects and two adults have been arrested so far in connection to the gang rape of a 16-year-old girl in Eilat earlier this month. The suspects were taken for questioning in Lakhish in the northern Negev, where a special task force has been set up to investigate the case due to the vast number of suspected rapists.
The girl filed a police complaint stating that she had been attacked by a number of men in her room at the Red Sea Hotel two days prior.
The hotel denies any involvement in the alleged attack but on Sunday, the manager Hotel was detained on charges that she did nothing to stop a crime from being committed on the premises and for obstruction of justice.
A female suspect has also been detained on suspicion that she was attempting to post videos of the rape online.
Avnieli said more arrests were imminent.
According to the police, the alleged victim testimony had been found to be increasingly credible as the investigation continued, and was bolstered by evidence.
The victim's attorney Shani Moran, said her client would cooperate with police and is willing to face her attackers. "The allegation that 30 men were involved did not come from my client," she said, "It came from one of the suspects. My client was able to connect some of the suspects to the rape and presented the police with evidence."
"The victim was inside the room and could not see the men outside," she added, "when all of the evidence will be presented, there will be no doubt as to her credibility," Moran said.
"My client is in a very difficult emotional state and we are cooperating with the Ashkelon municipality to assist her. It is too soon to say whether she would be able to return to school at the beginning of the year."
Israelis across the country walked out of their workplace on Sunday at noon to protest the alleged gang rape and rampant violence against women in Israel.
With the exception of two 27-year-olds from Hadera who were detained last week, the rest of the suspected rapists are 17-year-old youths from the south. Security camera footage from the hotel reportedly shows men lining up in the hallway allegedly waiting to rape the girl.
The alleged gang rape and the recent murder of Noura Kabia by her husband in northern Israel have sparked protests across the country against violence against women and reignited public discourse over woman's rights and the leniency of the justice system towards convicted sex offenders.
The case has led dozens of companies and organizations to join Sunday's walkout, including Tel Aviv municipality, Microsoft Israel, Aerospace Industries, Strauss, AIG, Super-Pharm, and more.
"I cannot sleep over the shocking incident that took place last week in Eilat," wrote Michal Braverman-Blumenstyk, corporate vice president at Microsoft Israel, on social media.
"A group of men decide to one by one dissect the soul of a young girl and violently tear from her every right she has over her own body. It is more than a forceful act of physical assault. It is an attack on human dignity, on human morality, and on the most basic values, without which we are nothing," Braverman-Blumenstyk wrote.
"I and the employees of Microsoft Israel Research and Development will stop our work tomorrow at 12 as a sign of solidarity with the fight against violence against women," she said.
"It is clear to me that real change will not happen in one day, but we simply cannot stand by and accept a reality in which such horrific acts take place."
In a display of solidarity, Tel Aviv Municipality has also erased a 2002 mural depicting two male youths peeking into the women's locker room at one of its most well-known beaches.
"Freedom of expression and art are important values in our city, and despite this - since the painting was perceived as an acceptance of an illegal and criminal act, we decided to part with it," Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai wrote on Twitter.
Tel Aviv deputy mayor and the head of the municipality's Gender Equality Committee, Tzipi Brand, wrote on social media: "Today Tel Aviv-Jaffa is sending a clear message - there is no room for abusive discourse against women in the public space."
At 8 pm, a demonstration denouncing sexual abuse and violence against women will take place across the country, including in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, Kfar Sava, Be'er Sheva, Modiin, Petah Tikva, Kiryat Ono, Haifa, Ashdod and Rehovot.
"Now is the time to say enough is enough, if the state won't stop this from happening, we will," said PR specialist Moran Zer Katzenstein, the founder of the protest and member of the women's organization "Building an Alternative."
"Violence against women crosses gender and political affiliation. It is a sort of violence we can non longer tolerate," she said.
"I call on you, the women and people of Israel, stop, protest, let your voices be heard."
The organizers of the protest said in a statement: "Women are 51% of the civilian force in Israel. We are the economic engine of the economy and we are on strike. Mothers, daughters, married, single moms, single, LGBT, secular, religious. Women from all over the country. We have come to build another alternative.
"We demand that the government put the women of Israel on the national agenda - to pass the budgets that have been promised and delayed for four years, to order the prosecutor's office to stop with outrageous plea bargains, and to raise the for minimum sentences which are up to judicial discretion."
On Saturday night, hundreds of demonstrators protested across the country following the alleged gang rape and the murder of Noura Kabia.
First published: 18:16, 08.23.20