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Amit Soussana: Israeli woman held hostage by Hamas shares her sexual assault ordeal in Gaza

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NEW DELHI: An Israeli woman who was previously held captive in Gaza detailed her experience of being sexually assaulted at gunpoint by a Palestinian militant, a narrative she shared with the New York Times in a groundbreaking personal testimony made public on Tuesday.
Amit Soussana, aged 40, was abducted from Kibbutz Kfar Aza on October 7. Footage from security cameras captured her resistance against the kidnappers.
During the initial days of her detainment, Soussana described how her captor began inquiring about her intimate life, further detailing how she was kept alone, chained, and subjected to inappropriate physical interactions by her guard.
She recounted a particular incident on October 24 where she was assaulted by the militant responsible for her surveillance post-bathroom use.
According to Soussana, the assailant, who identified himself as Muhammad, subjected her to physical violence, and coerced her into a bedroom designated for children, where she was compelled at gunpoint to perform a sexual act on him.
The New York Times validated Soussana’s narrative as aligning with the disclosures made to two physicians and a social worker shortly after her liberation on November 30, amidst a week-long ceasefire.
The details of the assault, specifically the nature of the sexual act, were recorded by the professionals; however, The Times chose to withhold these specifics from their publication.
In addition to Soussana’s testimony, at least three other released hostages have come forward, including one who spoke with Reuters, revealing experiences of sexual maltreatment endured by other captives.
On March 5, a United Nations inquiry team announced there were “reasonable grounds to believe” that acts of sexual violence, encompassing rape and gang rape, were perpetrated in various locales during the Hamas-initiated assault on Israel on October 7.
Led by UN special envoy for sexual violence in conflict, Pramila Patten, the group conducted an investigative mission in Israel from January 29 to February 14, aiming to collate, examine, and corroborate details concerning the sexual violence incidents tied to the October 7 attacks.
Their findings also indicated conclusive and persuasive evidence suggesting that several hostages taken to Gaza were victims of sexual violence.
Hamas has consistently refuted allegations of engaging in sexual violence during and subsequent to the attacks on October 7.

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