Israeli hostage recounts sexual assault in Gaza captivity -NYT

By Thomson Reuters Mar 26, 2024 | 2:00 PM

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – A released Israeli hostage recounted sexual assault at gunpoint by one of the Palestinian militants who held her captive in Gaza, in a first such personal account published on Tuesday in an interview with the New York Times.

Amit Soussana, 40, was taken hostage on Oct. 7 from Kibbutz Kfar Aza. Security camera footage showed her fighting back against her abductors. She said that around Oct. 24 she was attacked by the man guarding her after washing in the bathroom.

Soussana said the guard, who called himself Muhammad, put a gun to her forehead, beat her and dragged her to a child’s bedroom. “Then he, with the gun pointed at me, forced me to commit a sexual act on him,” Soussana said in the interview.

The Times said Soussana’s account was consistent with what she told two doctors and a social worker less than 24 hours after she was freed on Nov. 30. during a week-long truce.

“Their reports about her account state the nature of the sexual act; The Times agreed not to disclose the specifics,” the newspaper said.

At least three released hostages have spoken publicly, including one in an interview with Reuters, about incidents of sexual abuse against fellow captives.

On March 5 a team of United Nations experts reported that there were “reasonable grounds to believe” sexual violence, including rape and gang rape, occurred at several locations during the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas militants.

The team – led by U.N. special envoy for sexual violence in conflict Pramila Patten – visited Israel between Jan. 29 and Feb. 14 on a mission intended to gather, analyse and verify information on sexual violence linked to the Oct. 7 attacks.

It also found what it described as clear and convincing information that some of the hostages taken to Gaza were subjected to sexual violence.

Hamas has repeatedly rejected accusations of sexual violence during and after the Oct. 7 attack.

(Reporting by Maayan Lubell; editing by James Mackenzie and Rosalba O’Brien)