The Israel Police have opened an investigation into a suspected gang rape of a 16-year-old girl at a hotel in Eilat a week ago.
The Ashkelon Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday extended the detention of one suspect by five days, while another suspect was arrested. The men allegedly raped the minor while she was drunk, and some filmed the assaults with their cellphones.
Police have refused to say how many men were mentioned in the victim’s complaint, but the lawyer for the detained suspect said that he said 30 people were involved in the incident.
The girl turned to police last Friday, saying that the rape had occurred two days earlier at the Red Sea Hotel in Eilat. The police said she wasn’t a guest at the hotel, but was spending time there with her girlfriends and male friends of one of her friends, who were drinking together. According to the police, the girl, who had gotten drunk, needed to use the bathroom, and she was taken to one of the hotel rooms. There she was raped by a group of men, some of whom did not know each other previously.
The police said that the hotel room door was open part of the time, but the friend who had accompanied the victim to the room wasn’t able to prevent the rapes. According to the police, even when she ran to tell their other friends what was happening, they couldn’t get the men to stop. The girl underwent a medical examination to collect evidence, and the police are awaiting the results.
The news of the incident caused public uproar in Israel, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling it a shocking crime against humanity. Many other politicians condemned the event and called for investigation and justice for the alleged rape victim.
One of the suspects in custody is a 27-year-old from Hadera with a criminal record; in one case he was prosecuted for threatening a policewoman with rape. He is suspected of intercourse without consent, conspiring to commit a crime and not preventing a crime. His lawyer, Ofra Siboni from the Public Defender’s Office, said that the suspect claims he was in the room only part of the time and denies that he had intercourse with the girl. She also said that he asserts he couldn’t have prevented 30 men from having sex with her because he was afraid of them.
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Siboni added that the suspect claims the girl was the one who called on the men to come into the room. She said the girl and her friends did not see a reason to call for help, and that the men involved didn’t think anything was amiss because of the girl’s behavior. Siboni said the girl filed her complaint only upon learning she’d been filmed.
“The young man is cooperating with investigators, denies the suspicions and has given his version of the sequence of events. We are waiting for the police to check his version as soon as possible,” she said.