Only Four Likely to Be Charged With Rape in Eilat Case, Israeli Police Source Says

Almog Ben Zikri
Almog Ben Zikri
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Demonstrators protest the government in Tel Aviv following the suspected Eilat gang rape, August 20, 2020.
Demonstrators protest the government in Tel Aviv following the suspected Eilat gang rape, August 20, 2020. Credit: Ofer Vaknin
Almog Ben Zikri
Almog Ben Zikri

Only four of the 13 men who were arrested on suspicion of gang raping a 16-year-old girl in an Eilat hotel are likely to be charged with rape, a source familiar with the police investigation said.

The prosecution is likely to file rape charges against two 27-year-old men from Hadera and two brothers, both minors, from the Lachish Regional Council, the source added. If any of the remaining 13 suspects are indicted, they will most likely be charged with the lesser charge of failure to prevent a crime.

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Seventeen suspects have been arrested since the investigation began about two weeks ago, but four of them, including the manager of the hotel where the rape took place, were never suspected of involvement in the rape itself. 

On Sunday, the Ashkelon Magistrate’s Court ordered that six minors arrested in the case be released to house arrest, including the two brothers likely to be charged with rape. The brothers’ lawyer, Ness Ben-Nathan, said the judge made this decision both because the brothers won’t be able to endanger anyone while under house arrest and because the investigation is almost over, reducing the risk of them disrupting it.

Police appealed the decision, requesting that all of the suspects remain in custody for another few days. The prosecution also submitted their intention to indict five minors and an adult to keep them in custody.

The evidence connecting the suspects to the rape includes security camera footage from the Red Sea Hotel, which showed many potential suspects outside the room where the rape occurred, most of them minors. But as the investigation has progressed, police have also managed to obtain a video filmed by one of the suspects from inside the room. The adult suspects are to be charged with filming and disseminating the video, violating the victim’s privacy and publishing obscene material.

One of the suspects, who was shown the video during his interrogation, said it shows one of the adult suspects from Hadera having sex with the girl, a source said. According to the suspect, she appears in the video to have been too incapacitated to have been capable of resisting bodily harm.

Under questioning, some of the suspects denied the allegations against themselves, while accusing others of having committed the rape. 

When the investigation began, police said the victim had been taken to a hospital where samples were taken that could provide forensic evidence such as the rapists’ DNA. In the meantime, however, police have refused to provide details regarding the test results.

Last week, upon announcing that all the suspects had been arrested, police said they found the victim’s story to be credible and had also found evidence to support it.

The prosecution intends to file one overarching indictment against all those involved in the Eilat rape case, to include both adults and minors, whether suspected of rape or failure to prevent a crime. This would mean that the girl would not have to testify multiple times. The discussions will likely be held behind closed doors, including the aspects involving adults.

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