'One penetrates her. She screams. I still remember her voice, screams without words'

Comprehensive New York Times investigation reveals shocking testimonies to use of sexual violence against Israeli civilians by Hamas terrorists on October 7

At first, she was known only as the "woman in the black dress." In video clips she is seen lying on her back, her dress torn. Her face is unrecognizable, and her right hand is covering her eyes. The clip was shot in the morning hours on October 8 by another woman searching for her friend at the site of the Nova music festival, which became the scene of the worst massacre in Israel's history.
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The video went viral, with thousands responding, trying to ascertain if the "woman in the black dress" was a relative of theirs. One family knew exactly who she was - Gal, a mother of two who was at a party with her husband.
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אתר מסיבת הטבע נובה פסטיבל נובה מהאוויר
אתר מסיבת הטבע נובה פסטיבל נובה מהאוויר
Charred skeletons of vehicles at the campsite of the Nova music festival
(Photo: Reuters/Ilan Rosenberg)
As terrorists approached while she was stuck in a traffic jam of cars trying to flee the party, she sent a final WhatsApp message to her family: "You don't understand." Both she and her husband were murdered in the massacre.
A comprehensive investigation by The New York Times reported that police believe Gal was one of many women and girls raped and sexually assaulted in the October 7 massacre.
Israeli officials said that wherever Hamas terrorists were – the desert rave, military bases near Gaza, the kibbutzim - they sexually assaulted women. The article features some harrowing accounts that we chose not to print here but can be found in The Times’ report.
The investigation, which lasted two months, uncovered shocking details and revealed that the sexual assaults were not isolated incidents but rather a widespread pattern of gender-based violence that occurred on that Saturday.
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תמונות הנרצחים והחטופים ממסיבת הטבע מסיבת הטבע נובה
תמונות הנרצחים והחטופים ממסיבת הטבע מסיבת הטבע נובה
Pictures of victims and hostages at the site of the desert rave
(Photo: REUTERS/Amir Cohen)
The investigation is based on videos, photos, GPS data and interviews with over 150 people, including eyewitnesses, medical staff, soldiers and counselors for sexual assault victims. The inquiry identified seven different locations where women and girls were raped or sexually assaulted.

Hid behind a tree and witnessed the horrors

Four eyewitnesses detailed seeing women being raped and murdered at two different locations on Route 232, the same road where Gal's body was found.
According to the investigation, 30 bodies of women and girls were found in the area of the party and two kibbutzim, with their clothes torn, resembling the grim scene of Gal. A video provided by the IDF as part of the investigation showed two female soldiers at a base after being shot in their genital areas.
Sapir, a 24-year-old accountant, became a key witness in the police investigation of the sex crimes committed by Hamas terrorists. She was at the Nova festival with her friends and provided investigators with particularly graphic and gruesome testimonies.
She said that at 8am on October 7, she hid behind a tree near Route 232, about 3.5 miles from the party site. She was shot in the back, felt she was about to faint and covered herself with grass to avoid being seen.
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פרעות "נובה" מגרש המכוניות  שהוקם בשדה פתוח עם כ 1000 מכוניות מפויחות של נרצחי המסיבה ברעים
פרעות "נובה" מגרש המכוניות  שהוקם בשדה פתוח עם כ 1000 מכוניות מפויחות של נרצחי המסיבה ברעים
Charred skeletons of vehicles at the campsite of the Nova music festival
(Photo: Yuval Chen)
According to her, 50 feet from her hiding spot, she saw motorcycles, cars and trucks. She claimed there were 100 people there, most wearing military fatigues. She said the men were passing around weapons, grenades, small missiles - and injured women. She saw a young woman bleeding from her head and described how the men raped her while stabbing her with a knife.
She witnessed the rape of other women and other horrifying acts. Sapir provided pictures of her hiding place and her injuries, and the police released a video of her with her face blurred out sharing her harrowing account.
Since that day, Sapir says that she can barely sleep. She wakes up with night terrors and covered in cold sweat. “That day, I became an animal,” she said. “I was emotionally detached, sharp, just the adrenaline of survival. I looked at all this as if I was photographing them with my eyes, not forgetting any detail. I told myself: I should remember everything.”

'I still remember her voice, screams without words'

Raz Cohen, a young man who also attended the party, was near Route 232 that morning, but in a different area. He said he saw five men in civilian clothes, all carrying knives and one of them also had a hammer, as they were dragging a young woman on the ground. According to him, the young woman was naked and screaming.
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מתחם זיהוי הגופות "שורה" ברמלה לאחר הטבח בדרום
מתחם זיהוי הגופות "שורה" ברמלה לאחר הטבח בדרום
Shura military base where bodies of Oct. 7 victims identified
(Photo: Yair Sagi)
“They all gather around her,” Cohen said. “She’s standing up. They start raping her. I saw the men standing in a half circle around her. One penetrates her. She screams. I still remember her voice, screams without words.”
“Then one of them raises a knife,” he said, “and they just slaughtered her.”
Captain Maayan, a doctor who worked at the Shura military base for the identification of the bodies, said she saw at least 10 bodies of women from bases in the surrounding area with signs of sexual assault. Testimonies of such horrors were also seen in the kibbutzim where Hamas terrorists infiltrated.
Gil Horev, a spokesperson for the Welfare Ministry, said there were at least three women and a man who were sexually assaulted and survived. “None of them has been willing to come physically for treatment,” he told The Times.
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