Israeli police investigators have found evidence that men as well as woman were raped by Hamas terrorists and suffered sexual violence at their hands, it has been claimed.
Yael Sherer, spokeswoman for Israel's Survivors of Sexual Violence advocacy group, said there was physical evidence as well as eyewitness accounts.
Speaking on BBC Radio Four on Monday, she added: “There was sexual violence and rape in these communities in the south of Israel. We have a few living survivors - not a lot - of both genders. It didn't only happen to women, it happened to men as well.
“Aside from finding bodies of people who were murdered, a lot of the bodies were mutilated. Terrorists made sure to disgrace these people and dishonour them.”
Israeli police say they have been exploring evidence of sexual violence, ranging from alleged gang rape to post-mortem mutilation.
Their inquiry has, so far, gathered "more than 1,500 shocking and difficult testimonies", a senior police officer told Israel's parliament this week.
At a Knesset hearing on Monday, senior police investigator Shelly Harush provided harrowing evidence of sexual violence and mutilation including "an apocalypse of corpses, girls stripped bare above the waist and below", and a grisly witness account of the gang rape, mutilation and murder of a young woman.
Another witness she cited spoke of wounds to the "genitals, abdomen, legs and buttocks" with some having their "breasts cut off" or sustaining "gunshot wounds".
First responders described encountering bodies "with their hands cuffed behind their backs, a woman's corpse bleeding from the genital area".
Israeli soldiers stand amid protective barriers, with graffiti reading 'Path for Peace' near the border fence with the Gaza Strip on November 17, 2023 in Netiv HaAsara, Israel (Photo: Getty Images)
Meanwhile, police investigations chief Shlomit Landes said they were attacked "just for being women", including some who were pregnant.
"Most were murdered. Those who survived - because they hid, among them children - we've not yet spoken to... due to the depth of their trauma," she said.
David Katz, who heads the Lahav 443 criminal investigation unit, said the inquiry could take six to eight months but did not give a precise figure for the number of cases under investigation.
Haim Outmezgine, commander of a special unit of Zaka, which collects the remains of bodies, added: “We collected 1,000 bodies in ten days from the festival site and kibbutzim. No one saw more than us.
“It was clear they were trying to spread as much horror as they could — to kill, to burn alive, to rape … it seemed their mission was to rape as many as possible.”
Hamas has said it "rejected and strongly denounced" the reports of rape and sexual abuse. In a statement on Telegram, the terror group said that such claims were "lies" by Israel that sought to distort the "humane" way Hamas has treated Israeli hostages.
Hamas took some 240 people hostage on October 7 but 110 were released last week during a ceasefire with Israel.