Main defendants in Eilat gang-rape case sentenced to 14 years, 22 years in prison

They raped a then-16-year-old girl at the Red Sea Hotel in Eilat in a sexual offense that involved at least six other men and boys; Judges called case 'exceptional in its severity, its brutality, its scope, and the extent of the dismissal of basic human values of dignity, compassion, and humanity'

The Be'er Sheva District Court handed down a sentence on Monday for two out of four defendants in the shocking gang-rape case of a 16-year-old girl at the Red Sea Hotel in Eilat in 2020. Issy Raphaelov, 31, was sentenced to 22 years in prison, while Eliezer Meirov, 31, was sentenced to 14 years in prison. The sentences for the other two defendants, both 19-year-old twins who were minors at the time of the incident and were also convicted of rape, will be determined at a later date.
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The complainant didn’t attend the hearing and watched the proceedings remotely. The sentences of another adult and five minors involved in the crime will also be determined at a later date: four of them were convicted of aiding and abetting rape, one was convicted of sexual harassment, and one was convicted of incitement to commit sexual harassment. Raphaelov and Meirov were also sentenced to compensate the complainant 300,000 shekels.
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איסי רפאילוב, איליזיר מאירוב
איסי רפאילוב, איליזיר מאירוב
Eliezer Meirov, Red Sea Hotel in Eilat, Issy Raphaelov
(Photo: Barel Ephraim)
The presiding judge, Yael Raz-Levi, and judges Gilat Shalev and Aharon Mishnayot wrote in the verdict: "This is a story of a joyful young girl who spent her summer vacation in Eilat and indulged in alcoholic drinks. The accused Raphaelov encountered her while searching for a victim. From here, in a sharp and sinister turn, what began as a vacation with friends turned into a malicious event in which the victim was assaulted by a large number of defendants."
The judges further noted that everyone who entered the girls' room while she was being raped was aware of what was happening, and not only did none of them stop the sexual assault, but also joined in it. "None of them showed her any mercy," the judges wrote.
None of them showed her any mercy
They dismissed the defense's claim that the defendants didn’t use violence against the girl. "It has already been established that each act of rape in itself is a violent and aggressive act." The judges added that such crime warrants severe punishment. "They didn’t show any empathy toward the complainant."
Regarding Raphaelov's role in the crime, the judges said: "While the complainant was barely able to walk and was supported by others in the hotel, she was 'snatched' by the accused, who feigned concern for her, falsely presented himself as an adult with a medical background, and claimed he would take care of and help her.
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גז"ד בפרשת האונס במלון הים האדום באילת
גז"ד בפרשת האונס במלון הים האדום באילת
Eliezer Meirov and Issy Raphaelov at the hearing
“The accused led the complainant to room 216 in the hotel, where he began to commit severe acts of sexual assaults against her, violated her dignity and invaded her privacy,” the judges added.
The judges noted that Meirov raped the complainant after Raphaelov had done so previously, "and in the meantime, Defendant 2 (Raphaelov) filmed the complainant's rape by Defendant 1 (Meirov) and encouraged him to continue.”
The court said Raphaelov and Meirov’s offenses were among the most severe ever recorded. "The manner in which the offenses in this case were committed was exceptional in its severity, its brutality, its scope, and the extent of the dismissal of basic human values of dignity, compassion, and humanity," the judges wrote.
Raz-Levi, who presided over the hearing, addressed the complainant, who did not attend the hearing. "We hope she will muster the strength to continue leading her life. Progress is being made here,” she said.
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עו"ד רותם יוחנני
עו"ד רותם יוחנני
Attorney Rotem Yochanani
Attorney Rotem Yochanani from the Southern District Prosecutor's Office, which handled the case, said: "These sentences reflect the severity of the offenses committed by the defendants and the depth of the harm, humiliation and degradation they caused. The punishment sends a clear message that the body and soul of a young girl aren’t disposable. It’s a message to everyone who took part in rape, committed sexual offenses, and watched the acts.”
Attorney Nir Yislevich, Raphaelov's attorney, said: "I respect the court's verdict, although I disagree with the outcome it reached. The place to challenge court rulings is done in the Supreme Court, not in the media."
Attorney Aharon Roza, Meirov’s attorney called the sentence "harsh compared to other rulings in similar and much more severe cases. Therefore, we intend to appeal the court’s decision."
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מלון הים האדום באילת
מלון הים האדום באילת
Red Sea Hotel in Eilat
(Photo: Haim David)
The indictment detailed that in August 2020, the girl became intoxicated to the point she was unable to control her actions and desires. At some point, Raphaelov and Meirov followed her to her hotel room and entered it after noticing how drunk she was at the hotel's pool.
The indictment charged that the two men took advantage of her condition and raped her, after which the twin brothers, who were 17 years old at the time, joined in the act with each of them raping her one after the other. Due to the girl's condition at the time of the rape, in which she does not remember most of the incident, a large amount of the evidence was based on DNA, digital findings, and the defendants' confessions.
Following the court’s decision, the complainant said: "I would like to know what happened and who did what, it's frustrating not to know something you've been through. But on the other hand, maybe it's better that I don't know. The mind doesn't remember, but the body is still traumatized.”
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