'Extent of gender-based violence committed on October 7 will ever be known'

The Guardian brings horrific testimonies about the sexual violence carried out by Hamas terrorists; police say a woman who survived a gang rape at Nova Music Festival was treated for severe trauma, unable to speak to investigators

Over three months since Hamas' attack on Israel, a report published Thursday on The Guardian sheds light on the systematic and brutal sexual violence perpetrated by Palestinian terrorists during the October 7 onslaught.
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Accounts of such violence, including sexual abuse, gang rape and mutilation inflicted on both women and men, further expose the extent of the crimes by terrorists who entered Israel from Gaza, offering a chilling insight into the nature of the attacks.
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רכב ברעים
רכב ברעים
Scene of Hamas attack on music festival
(Photo: AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)
Warning: this story contains graphic and disturbing details. Discretion is advised
Shari Mendes, an IDF reservist who was tasked with washing the female bodies and preparing them for burial at the Shura military base in central Israel, where most of the dead were taken, told reporters, “We have seen women who have been raped, from the age of children through to the elderly.”
According to her, her team saw “several soldiers who were shot on the crotch, intimate parts, vagina or shot in the breasts.”
Simcha Greeneman, a volunteer for Zaka, Israel’s emergency response organization, who spoke to the Guardian, said in one kibbutz he had come across a woman who was naked from the waist down, bent over a bed and shot in the back of the head. In another house, he discovered a dead woman with sharp objects in her vagina, including nails.
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שמחה גריינימן
שמחה גריינימן
Simcha Greeneman
(Photo: Zaka)
Lahav 433, Israel's premier police investigative unit, is meticulously examining 50,000 pieces of visual evidence and 1,500 witness testimonies but is unable to determine the exact number of women and girls who endured gender-based violence.
Through a thorough cross-referencing of police testimonies, interviews with witnesses, and photo and video evidence from survivors and first responders, The Guardian has identified a minimum of six sexual assaults backed by multiple corroborating pieces of evidence. Among these, two victims, both under the age of 18, were murdered. However, the actual number of victims is likely much higher.
Prof. Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, a legal scholar and international women’s rights advocate, says that she gathered from her examination of evidence that at least seven women who were killed were also raped in the attack.
The New York Times and NBC have both identified over 30 girls and women who were murdered and found with signs of abuse, including mutilated genitals and missing clothing.
Not only women were affected by the attack. According to the Welfare Ministry, among the survivors, five women and one man have sought help in recent months due to sexual abuse.
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Scene of Hamas attack on music festival
(Photo: REUTERS/Ilan Rosenberg)
The police reported that a woman who survived a gang rape at the Nova Music Festival massacre was treated for severe mental and physical trauma, rendering her unable to speak with investigators.
Police spokesperson Mirit Ben Mayor said that following the terror attack, due to the vast number of victims and the burnt or disfigured state of some bodies, morgues were preoccupied with identification and lacked the time or ability to check for sexual assaults using rape kits. Additionally, a shortage of skilled forensic pathologists posed a problem.
The Guardian noted that many ZAKA volunteers reported having inadvertently contaminated crime scenes and compromised evidence while trying to maintain the dignity of the dead.
The victims' bodies were also quickly released from morgues to their families for rapid burial as required by Jewish tradition, burying crucial evidence with them. It was further reported that while some posthumous forensic examination is still possible, it is unlikely that the full extent of the gender-based violence committed on October 7 will ever be known.
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