Israeli Hostage Details Sexual Assault by Hamas

Amit Soussana tells 'NYT' she was forced into sexual act at gunpoint, beaten, tortured
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 27, 2024 6:21 AM CDT
Israeli Hostage Details Sexual Assault by Hamas
This undated photo shows Amit Soussana, 40, who was released on Nov. 30 after 55 days in Hamas captivity.   (Hostages and Missing Families Forum headquarters via AP)

President Biden has condemned the sexual violence said to have been perpetrated by Hamas during the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, and late last year, the New York Times provided a detailed account of the systemic use of sexual abuse the militant group is said to have carried out. Then, earlier this month, the United Nations said there was "clear and convincing information" that Hamas was subjecting hostages it was still holding in Gaza to "cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment." Now, the Times talks to Amit Soussana, who it says is "the first former hostage to publicly say she was sexually abused in captivity."

  • Soussana's account: The Israeli lawyer abducted on Oct. 7 and released 55 days later says her sexual abuse began several days after she'd been taken hostage, when a guard started inquiring about her sex life. Then, around Oct. 24, that escalated into an actual physical attack. "He came towards me and shoved the gun at my forehead," Soussana recalls. "Then he, with the gun pointed at me, forced me to commit a sexual act on him."

  • More from Soussana: It got more brutal from there. Soussana says at one point she was transferred to a new location, where she was united with other hostages but also beaten and tortured. "They were hitting me and laughing and kicking me, and called the other hostages to see me," she says.
  • Israel's president: "Amit Soussana speaks for all those who cannot speak," Isaac Herzog posted Tuesday on X of the 40-year-old, who was released in late November. "She speaks for all the victims of Hamas' despicable sexual crimes and abuse. She speaks for all women everywhere."
  • Hamas reaction: Spokesperson Basem Naim sent a 1,300-word retort to the Times in which he "cast doubt" on Soussana's story, claiming that her account was too detailed to be believable, and that Hamas' religious beliefs wouldn't allow such crimes. "For us, the human body, and especially that of the woman, is sacred," he said. He also slammed the newspaper for not looking more into sexual assaults against Palestinian women by Israeli soldiers. Naim similarly denied allegations of Hamas sexual violence earlier this month to CNN.
Read much more from Soussana here, with a warning that it's graphic. (More Israel-Hamas war stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.