March 27, 2024 | Flash Brief

Former Israeli Hostage Recounts Sexual Assault, Torture in Captivity

March 27, 2024 | Flash Brief

Former Israeli Hostage Recounts Sexual Assault, Torture in Captivity

Latest Developments

A former Israeli hostage said Hamas terrorists sexually assaulted her in captivity in an eight-hour interview published on March 26. Amit Soussana, a 40-year-old lawyer from kibbutz Kfar Aza, provided a first-hand account of her abduction and torture to The New York Times. On October 7, at least 10 Hamas terrorists stormed Soussana’s home and dragged her to Gaza. Approximately two to three weeks later, her guard sexually assaulted her at gunpoint. “He came towards me and shoved the gun at my forehead,” she recounted. “Then he, with the gun pointed at me, forced me to commit a sexual act on him.”

Hamas freed Sousanna on November 30 during a week-long pause that saw Hamas release 81 Israeli hostages in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners. Approximately 130 hostages remain in Gaza, 34 of whom Israel believes are dead. On March 22, the United States abstained from a resolution at the United Nations Security Council that demanded a Gaza ceasefire that is not contingent on Hamas releasing any hostages.

Expert Analysis

“This brave woman’s testimony is a rebuke to the Biden administration after America’s cowardly capitulation at the Security Council this week. Over 130 hostages remain in Gaza — experiencing the horrors of captivity — including women, children, and Americans. Biden promised to do everything in his power to bring the hostages back, only to sell them out at Turtle Bay.” — Enia Krivine, Senior Director of FDD’s Israel Program and National Security Network

“Amit Soussana’s testimony should cause all people, no matter their nationality or religion, to feel horrified and outraged about Hamas’s brutality. But outrage by itself is not a policy. Words condemning sexual violence and abuse committed against women are only the first step. Our leaders must exert concrete pressure on Hamas in Gaza and in Doha to release all hostages — who are American, Israeli, and other nationalities — as if these women were their daughters, sisters, spouses, or mothers.” — Toby Dershowitz, Managing Director of FDD Action

UN Finds Evidence of Rape

From January 29 to February 14, the UN special representative on sexual violence in conflict, Pramila Patten, led an investigation in Israel during which her team reviewed more than 5,000 photos and 50 hours of audio and video footage. The team also interviewed more than 30 survivors and eyewitnesses. “Based on the totality of information gathered,” the team reported on March 4, “there are reasonable grounds to believe that conflict-related sexual violence occurred at several locations across the Gaza periphery, including rape and gang rape.” The investigation also found “clear and convincing information” that Hamas terrorists committed sexual crimes against female hostages.

The New York Times and the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel also published reports in December and February detailing Hamas’s sexual crimes. Hamas denies that its members committed sexual crimes, but captured terrorists have admitted to rape in interrogations with Israeli authorities.

Slow International Response to Hamas Sexual Violence

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres first acknowledged reports of sexual violence on November 29, seven weeks after Hamas massacred more than 1,200 victims in Israel. UN Women, an agency tasked with promoting women’s rights, waited until December 1 to call out Hamas’s “gender-based atrocities and sexual violence.” On December 10, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an interview with CNN that Hamas’s violence against Israeli women was “beyond anything that I’ve seen.” He questioned “why countries, leaders, [and] international organizations were so slow to focus on this.”

UN Report Says Hamas Used Rape as Crime of War,” FDD Flash Brief

Hamas Sexual Crimes Detailed in New Report on October 7 Attack,” FDD Flash Brief

Slow International Response to Hamas’s Sexual Violence Chastised by Blinken,” FDD Analysis

U.S. Abstains From Ceasefire Resolution at UN Security Council,” FDD Flash Brief


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