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‘Raped Daily’: Former Israeli Hostages Recount Sexual Abuse by Hamas Terrorists as Families Plead for Action

Teenage hostages before Oct. 7 and after their capture by Hamas to Gaza. Photo: Screenshot from Israeli government X/Twitter account

In an emotional hearing at the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, former hostages held by Hamas terrorists in Gaza recounted harrowing tales of sexual harassment and abuse, as families of those still held captive pleaded for the Israeli government to do more to secure their release.

“As hard as it is to say, every girl there goes through sexual harassment one way or another,” said Mia Regev, who was freed in November after 50 days in captivity. Fighting back tears, she urged lawmakers to take action, saying, “Your job is to bring them back home.”

Sharon Aloni-Cunio, also released in November, said “the fear is endless” for female captives. “To be a woman in captivity is to be in constant fear; it can’t be described in words,” she told the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of Women’s Status and Gender Equality. “The terrorist is the sole arbiter of your fate.”

She added: “The feeling of helplessness is one I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Each moment feels never-ending and every movement of the terrorists causes stomach cramping because who knows what might happen.”

Mothers and sisters of the remaining hostages stood with their loved ones’ pictures outside the committee room, some of them wearing clothes that appeared to be stained with blood. Liri Albag’s mother, Shira, said at the start of the hearing, “She’s in hell. Does anyone understand what it means to be in hell?”

“Our daughters experience daily suffering there. They are harmed in body and soul. My Liri was, and still is — I don’t know because I have no information about her — a slave in the homes of Gazans,” she said.

“All the decision-makers — you need to understand that every day you witness the rape that happens in Gaza,” she continued. “These girls are raped daily and everyone ignores them. You close your eyes. I hear Liri every day screaming for help: ‘Mom, save me already.’ Liri’s soul is crushed, and I cannot speak about what has happened to her body.”

Yaffa Ohad, the aunt of Noa Argamani, attended the hearing instead of Argamani’s mother, who is dying of cancer. Ohad fainted during the hearing and required medical attention. Before she fainted, Ohad said since the testimony of Amit Soussana, the first hostage to go public with her testimony of sexual torture during her captivity, had “wiped the family out. The thoughts will not leave us alone.”

Soussana, a 40-year-old lawyer from Kfar Aza, told the New York Times that her Hamas captor forced her to perform a “sexual act on him” at gunpoint among other incidents of sexual assault, in a child’s bedroom.

Ohad also said that, due to the recently released confession of a Palestinian terrorist who said he raped Israeli women, “our days and nights have been intolerable.”

Several other family members also provided disturbing testimony about the abuse their loved ones may be enduring. Yarden Gonen, sister of hostage Romi Gonen, cited testimonies from first responders and Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers who found evidence showing that on Oct. 7 the terrorists were following orders permitting escalating levels of brutality against hostages over time, including rape.

“Women and men bound naked, burned alive, not just a few, a recurring pattern,” she said. “The terrorists came with notes tucked inside their vests. Inside the note was scribed, ‘If there is no time, just kill. But if you have more time, inflict a maim and then kill. Have a little more time? Torture and then kill. A little more time? Burn them alive and then kill them. If you have ample time, rape as long as you desire because it is permitted and it vindicates the resistance.’”

Hamas terrorists murdered more than 1,200 people and took 253 others as hostages during their Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel. Over 100 hostages were released in November as part of a temporary truce between Israel and Hamas brokered by foreign mediators.

Tuesday’s hearing underscored the mounting pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to strike a deal with Hamas for the release of the civilians and soldiers still held in Gaza. Some relatives accused officials of failing to act with sufficient urgency as the 134 hostages approach 200 days since their captivity.

No government ministers attended the session.

“We have all been exposed to the testimonies. We need to bring them home. It is in our hands,” committee chairwoman Pnina Tamano-Shata said.

While the focus was on the plight of female hostages, families said male captives also face severe mistreatment.

The UN concluded in a report released last month that there is “clear and convincing information” that Hamas is perpetrating sexual violence against hostages in Gaza. The same UN report also found that Hamas likely committed widespread acts of gang-rape and torture against women on Oct. 7.

Mounting evidence has documented Hamas’ systematic use of torture and sexual violence, including mass rape, against the Israeli people during the onslaught.

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Air Canada cancelled two flights to Tel Aviv due to the Iranian missile attack—leaving some travellers to seek alternatives, or consider postponing their trips

After a weekend overnight shutdown of Israeli airspace, during which time Iranian missiles and drones attacked the country, Canadians ware cautiously optimistic that travel to and from Ben Gurion Airport will resume regular schedules later this week. Air Canada cancelled departures from Toronto on Saturday and from Tel Aviv on Monday—the latter despite the airport […]

The post Air Canada cancelled two flights to Tel Aviv due to the Iranian missile attack—leaving some travellers to seek alternatives, or consider postponing their trips appeared first on The Canadian Jewish News.

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Harvard University Wants Antisemitism Lawsuit Dismissed, Denies Injury to Students

Students accusing Israel of genocide at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, US, Nov. 16, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Lawyers representing Harvard University in Massachusetts have requested the dismissal of a lawsuit filed by six Jewish students who accused the school of ignoring antisemitic discrimination.

According to The Harvard Crimson, the university said in a court filing that a lawsuit, as well as a period of discovery during which its conduct would be thoroughly examined, was not necessary due to the “tangible steps” it has taken to combat antisemitism in just the past few months. Additionally, the school argued that the civil suit, led by graduate student Shabbos Kestenbaum and Students Against Antisemitism, lacked standing.

“Without minimizing at all the importance of the need to address energetically antisemitism at the university, plaintiff’s dissatisfaction with the strategy and speed of Harvard’s essential work does not state a legally cognizable claim,” said the motion to dismiss, as quoted by The Crimson. “Consequently, the amended complaint should be dismissed.”

Harvard University recently received an “F” grade for its handling of antisemitism in a first-ever Campus Antisemitism Report Card issued by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre across southern Israel, students have stormed the campus calling for the destruction of the Jewish state, terrorizing students and preventing some from attending class.

In November, a mob of anti-Zionists — including Ibrahim Bharmal, editor of the prestigious Harvard Law Review — followed, surrounded, and intimidated a Jewish student. “Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!” the crush of people screamed in a call-and-response chant into the ears of the student who —as seen in the footage — was forced to duck and dash the crowd to free himself from the cluster of bodies that encircled him.

In February, a faculty group posted on social an antisemitic cartoon which showed a left-hand tattooed with a Star of David dangling two men of color from a noose.

These incidents, and more, are currently being investigated by the US House Committee on Education and the Workforce, which is probing Harvard’s handling of skyrocketing instances of antisemitic intimidation and harassment on campus.

Proclaiming that Harvard “failed Jews repeatedly,” Kestenbaum told The Crimson that he would not stand down.

“Harvard’s meritless motion to dismiss our lawsuit only proves our point: It has never taken the concerns of us Jewish students seriously, and has no plans to start now,” he said in a statement. “We will continue to apply maximum pressure in both the court of law and the court of public opinion … We hope that donors and prospective students follow closely.”

No Ivy League school earned better than a “C” in the ADL’s landmark report, a grade awarded to Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Four others — Columbia University, Brown University, Cornell University, and the University of Pennsylvania — received “D’s” while Harvard and Princeton University both received “F’s.”

“Every campus should get an A — that’s not grade inflation, that’s the minimum that every group on every campus expects,” ADL chief executive officer Jonathan Greenblatt said in a statement announcing the report. “They deserve a learning environment free from antisemitism and hate. But that hasn’t been the experience with antisemitism running rampant on campus since even before Oct. 7.”

Follow Dion J. Pierre @DionJPierre.

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Israel Sets New Standards for Saving Wounded Troops in War

Israeli soldiers scan an area while sirens sound as rockets from Gaza are launched towards Israel, near Sderot, southern Israel, Oct. 9, 2023. Photo: REUTERS/Amir Cohen

The Israeli army’s chief medical officer told a recent gathering of NATO and allied officials about the striking success of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in saving injured soldiers during the war against Hamas in Gaza.

According to IDF Medical Corps chief Elon Glassberg, the army has brought the time between the moment of injury and seeing a senior medical practitioner to under four minutes, and in many cases under one minute. One reason for the speed is that the IDF has changed its strategy for treating wounded soldiers from the typical field hospitals to which soldiers are evacuated and treated — and in serious cases transferred via helicopter to a hospital — to a system that brings doctors to the battlefield with soldiers.

The new system has, according to Glassberg, more than 670 doctors and paramedics embedded within combat groups in Gaza. As a result, wounded soldiers are given immediate care.

Additionally, the new policy calls for airlifting every wounded soldier to a hospital via helicopter, which are on standby at all times and outfitted to be like flying emergency rooms, staffed with surgeons and intensive care doctors.

The IDF has conducted over 950 such operations in the helicopters, according to Glassberg, bringing approximately 4,200 soldiers to hospitals. In the field, 80 soldiers were saved due to quick doses of plasma and 550 had bleeding stopped before the flights.

Of course, helicopter times to hospitals vary and are not predictable on the minute. The current time from moment of injury to arriving at the hospital stands at one hour and six minutes. This is in comparison to an average time of two hours and ten minutes during the 2014 Gaza War, also known as Operation Protective Edge.

The new processes by the IDF are saving lives. According to Glassberg, the current rate of death among wounded soldiers is 15 percent. In Gaza today, however, 6.3 percent of soldiers who are injured end up succumbing to their wounds, showing how quick action is key in ensuring the injured soldiers can return home after the war — or, in many cases, back to the battlefield.

Glassberg also pointed out how the IDF is continuing to learn how to best protect soldiers in the future. For example, he noted, a majority of deaths occurred due to injuries to parts of the body that are not protected by bulletproof vests. Therefore, Israel is already discussing new vests to give to soldiers to lower the casualty count.

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