| 2 March 2024, Saturday |

Israeli accounts of sexual violence by Hamas rise but justice is remote

On Oct. 7, the day Hamas attacked, the Israeli military set up an impromptu morgue of refrigerated shipping containers at the Shura defence base in central Israel to identify and prepare the dead for burial. Of the 1,200 people killed that day, authorities said at least 300 were women.

“Often women came in in just their underwear,” said Shari Mendes, a reservist who worked for two weeks at the base helping medics with fingerprinting and cleaning female soldiers’ bodies.

“Sometimes we had people who – we just had a torso, okay – or they were very decomposed or they were mutilated,” Mendes said. “I saw very bloody genitals on women.”

Israeli police are investigating possible sexual crimes by some of the few hundred people that they arrested after the Oct. 7 attack. Their goal is to try every suspect they have in custody.

But at the morgue where Mendes worked, the women’s clothes were buried with them before police investigators could examine them. In Jewish burial law, the dead must be treated with dignity and laid to rest as soon as possible. Everything that is a part of the body is buried together, so some women were buried with their bloodstained clothes.

“We wiped everything clean of blood,” Mendes told Reuters.

It’s just one of the challenges facing the investigation into the alleged sexual crimes committed during the attack, the bloodiest in Israel’s 75-year history.


  • Reuters