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Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 included widespread sexual violence and mutilation against women and girls (NYT)

Warning: This story contains graphic details of sexual assault and mutilation that some readers may find disturbing.

Hamas militants sexually assaulted and raped hundreds of women and girls during the group’s attack in southern Israel on October 7, according to a New York Times investigation.

The investigation – based on video footage, photos, cellphone GPS data and interviews with more than 150 witnesses, medical personnel, soldiers, rape counselors and others – found that the Hamas fighters have sexually assaulted and mutilated women and girls virtually everywhere they have attacked in Israel. .

Numerous volunteer paramedics and IDF medical personnel described finding women in multiple locations with legs spread, pants and underwear torn or missing, and signs of abuse or significant injuries to their bodies. genital areas, according to the Times.

A video provided by the Israel Defense Forces and verified by The Times showed two dead female IDF soldiers at a military base near the country’s border with the Palestinian territory of Gaza, who appeared to have gunshot wounds to their vaginas.

Several witnesses who survived the Hamas attack on the Supernova music festival, where more than 360 people were killed in the October 7 attack, said gunmen kidnapped women in vans, then took them to nearby locations and raped them before killing them and mutilating their bodies. , according to the Times report.

Rescuers also found women in several areas in and around the festival site, as well as along nearby Route 232, with their legs spread and their underwear missing and their hands tied with rope or ties. zip ties.

Many of the approximately 1,200 people killed on October 7 were buried quickly, in accordance with Jewish tradition, and have not had autopsies or a determination of how they died and whether they were assaulted. sexually.

Some emergency responders also inadvertently destroyed evidence of sexual assaults committed during the attack and did not document the assaults, in an effort to respect the dead.

“I didn’t take photos because we’re not allowed to take photos,” said Yossi Landau, a volunteer medical responder with the nonprofit ZAKA, the Times reported. “In retrospect, I regret it. »

The Times reported that the Israeli state police’s highest unit, Lahav 433, did not estimate how many women were raped or assaulted, but said the majority of them were dead and buried, and that those who survived have not yet spoken publicly.

Adil Haque, a Rutgers law professor and war crimes expert, said sex crimes committed during war are often prosecuted years after they were committed and often lack sufficient physical evidence.

“The eyewitness might not even know the victim’s name,” Haque said, according to the Times. “But if they can testify like this: ‘I saw a woman being raped by this armed group,’ that may be enough.”

Hamas officials have denied accusations of sexual violence during the October 7 attack. Israel then launched a retaliatory bombing campaign and ground invasion of Gaza that is nearing its third month, killing more than 20,000 people in the territory, mostly civilians, women and children.

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