Due to the deafening silence of the international women’s organizations in response to the sexual violence perpetrated against female victims of the October 7th massacre, Earlier this week, on the international day for the elimination of violence against women, there was a a special meeting of the Knesset's Committee for the Advancement of Women's Status and Gender Equality that dealt with the crimes committed by Hamas against women during the October 7th massacre.
Representatives in attendance included Brigadier General Shlomit Landes, Head of the Police Investigations Division in charge of identifying the bodies of victims, many of them arrived burnt, after being slaughtered, and mutilated; and Commander Shelly Harush from Lahav 433 Unit, that in charge of the investigations in the massacre crimes.
“The investigation includes gathering testimonies from survivors, families of the murdered and kidnapped, security and armed services personnel, ZAKA (The Disaster Bodies Identification national unit), fire fighters, first responders, and paramedics” Harush said. “We are only at the beginning of the investigation, wherein we have already collected more than 1,500 terrible and difficult testimonies, which the mind and the soul are unable to comprehend or digest.”
Harush described to the participants in the committee, among them ambassadors from foreign countries, some of what they have heard from these testimonies. We want to emphasize again; this includes descriptions that are difficult to read.
“The murderous terrorists weren’t satisfied with the murder of innocents, but rather they documented the murder of their victims as they tried to flee, they engaged in the desecration and mutilation of dead bodies, many of which involved the amputation of limbs and the burning of bodies. They worked systematically and with a plan to carry out mass murder. A mass extermination of everyone who crossed their path.”
“The scope of these acts of terror is unfathomable, both in terms of the number of victims and injured, and in terms of the atrocities, the corruption, the evil, and the brutality, all of which is described in detail by witnesses. A survivor of the Nova festival describes in his testimony: ‘It was like an apocalypse of dead bodies, girls without clothes, top halves, bottom halves. People cut in half, people slaughtered, some beheaded. There were girls whose pelvises were broken from the extent of the violent rape; their legs parted into a split.’
“A member of the search and rescue team deployed to the Nova festival describes: ‘There were bodies everywhere, injured. I saw a lot of women victims' bodies that were naked; someone I remember had been shot in her chest.’ A female member of the extraction team recalls: ‘a tent full of bodies, bodies with their hands bound behind their backs. I remember a body of a woman bleeding from her genital area’.
“Another witness described: 'tons of bodies mutilated in the head and neck areas, crushed heads, the body of a woman with her jeans pulled down around her knees. Heads without bodies, mostly men. A body with a knife sticking out of the jaw.’
“‘There were many gunshot injuries, gun fire directed at men’s genitals, bullet wounds in the stomach area, in the limbs, and in the buttocks”, said another witness. ‘They had an obsession with genitals, of both men and women. We saw women whose breasts had been cut off. We saw many men whose genitals had been removed.’
A female survivor of the Nova festival described: ‘It started with a girl with short hair, I didn’t see her during the party. I saw a situation where she was sitting on her knees, begging. A terrorist was standing over her, spitting on her face. He filmed her and then he shot her head. The area where we were hiding – that was where they brought all the women, even decapitated heads of women.”
“There was a situation where they bent someone over and then they raped her and passed her along between themselves. They were dressed as soldiers, I heard yelling in Arabic. The girl they were raping, she was still alive, she was standing on her feet, bleeding from her back.
“There was someone else who I remember that the terrorist pulled her hair. She wasn’t dressed, he cut off one of her breasts, threw it on the ground and started playing with it while still pulling her around. One of them penetrated her and then shot her in the head. He didn’t even look up, he shot her in the head while his pants were still down״.
Additional testimonies from the search and rescue teams refer to a residential home in one of the villages in which the terrorists committed the massacre: ‘In the shower there was the body of a woman, bound. She was naked on her bottom half. Her body was in the corner, hands tied.’
״Another witness recalled: ‘I saw an older woman, naked without underwear.’ Another witness describes: ‘Between the houses we found a body, among the rubble we saw only the head and neck. Her mouth was bound with some kind of fabric, the body was naked.”
Earlier, Shlomit Landes described her experience at the Shura base: “Women were victims of sexual violence, women suffered abuse simply because they are women, including pregnant women. At the Shura base we saw the horrors. Nothing prepared us for what we saw there. We saw on the bodies of victims and on them the extent of the violence and evil. If anyone is uncertain of the validity of these stories, you cannot argue with the images.
“We saw the bodies of women who had been shot, those who had been shot in the center of their faces, and not by chance. We saw those who were shot in sensitive areas of the body. We saw bodies that were bound, bodies missing particular limbs and sexual organs, because they were cut off by the murderers. We saw the blood and the suffering.”
“We saw among these bodies, women and girls. We saw the small body bags containing the bodies of dead children, girls and boys, some brought in as entire families. And we saw the bodies of parents alongside their children, sometimes in an embrace. We couldn’t help but imagine the final moments these families experienced before their murder.
“We saw the young women in their fashionable jeans or in comfortable festival clothes, the girls with tattoos who had gone out to party, we saw bodies with women’s shoes, we saw their long hair covered in blood, the dread locks, the clothing that the victims intended to wear to work, or to celebrate, or just to be with their children.”
“We saw their shiny, sparkly nail polish. We learned that gel polish can withstand massacres. Something that for women was a symbol of hope and self-care has become, to us, a representation of the extinction of their lives and their femininity, and of abuse.
“As police, we are used to collecting witness testimonies, and working hard to bring criminals to justice, and relief to victims. In this case, women did not just experience abuse and sexual assault, but most of them were murdered. They are not here to tell their stories of what took place. We will not have the opportunity to provide them with closure in this instance.
The same is true for witnesses of the atrocities, most of them were murdered as well. Among those who survived, many are children, and we have not yet spoken with them. It is unlikely we will be able to speak with them given the depths of the trauma. We assume that the hostages will also have information pertaining to this. It seems that we still do not know the scope and the depth of the atrocities.
We will continue working to collect the details of these inconceivable atrocities. We must bring to the attention of the enlightened world, the world that speaks often of the right to live in safety, and the rights of women, we must bring to their attention the crimes that took place here on the 7th of October.”