Israeli Lawyer Amit Susana: Survivor of Sexual Assault and Torture by Hamas

2024-03-28 02:47:37
Israeli lawyer Amit Susana (40), who was released after being kidnapped by the Palestinian armed group Hamas, holds a press conference in front of his home on January 29. /Reuters Yonhap News

An Israeli woman who was kidnapped by the Palestinian armed group Hamas and then released testified that she was sexually assaulted and tortured during her captivity. The UN and Israel have raised the issue that hostages held by Hamas are exposed to sexual abuse, but this is the first time a victim has publicly revealed this.

The New York Times (NYT) published an interview with Israeli lawyer Amit Susana (40) on the 27th (local time). According to this, Susana was taken hostage when Hamas raided Israel on October 7 last year. He was grabbed and assaulted by about 10 men, some of whom were armed, and then taken to the Palestinian Strip of Gaza. He was released on November 30th of that year and returned home.

Hamas detained Susana in a children’s bedroom with her left ankle chained. After a few days, it is said that the guard outside the door began repeatedly asking sex-related questions, such as asking “When is your menstrual period?” and eventually entered the room and attempted to make physical contact, such as lifting up her clothes. Susana recalled that “around October 18th she said her menstruation was over, but she pretended it was going on to avoid being sexually assaulted.”

The incident occurred on October 24th. A Hamas member who introduced himself as ‘Muhammad’ took Susana to the bathroom and had her wash, while he returned with a pistol. Susana claimed, “He pointed a gun at my forehead,” and “I was pushed at gunpoint back to the bedroom, and he forced me to perform a sexual act while pointing the gun.” During this process, he was tortured, including being beaten and having hot water thrown at him. It is also said that Muhammad suddenly said, “I am really bad,” and “Please don’t tell Israel.”

Inside Susana’s house destroyed in the Hamas attack. /Reuters News1

After three weeks of detention, he was tortured along with other hostages. He said that the guards covered his nose and mouth with tape, tied his feet, and made him hang on a pole between two sofas. They made the hostages sit on the floor, handcuffed them, and beat them mercilessly with gun butts. These beatings and threats continued even as the place of confinement changed, including private homes, offices, and underground tunnels.

Susana reported the damage to medical staff and social workers immediately after being handed over to the Red Cross and released. Although Hamas’ specific crimes were specified in the consultation document, the NYT decided not to disclose further details. This interview with Susana is also said to have lasted eight hours. Susana said she “decided to use her voice to raise awareness of the plight of the remaining Israeli hostages in Gaza.”

Meanwhile, the United Nations recently announced that there is credible evidence for claims that Hamas sexually assaulted hostages. He said it was a conclusion reached after interviewing about 30 people, including survivors, witnesses, released hostages, and medical staff, during the Hamas raid. However, senior Hamas official Bassem Naim denied the allegations, telling CNN, “The United Nations has not presented any solid evidence from eyewitnesses,” and “I have never met any of the victims.”

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