New shocking testimony from family members and Israeli first responders has brought to light new horrific details of Hamas brutality at a parliamentary event today.
Speaking at a talk in Westminster organised by the All Party UK-Israel Parliamentary Group, Shari Mendes, who was part of a forensics team that examined the bodies of women killed on October 7, described how her team had to flee a morgue as “bodies were coming in booby-trapped."
Mendes went on, “We didn’t want to leave them [the dead women] but we were told ‘it’s dangerous, you have to get out’... The whole staff had to leave [the morgue] until it was safe to go back in.”
Zaka volunteer, Simcha Greiniman, recounted how he found one woman: “Leaning on her bed. She was naked from the waist down. Her hands were tied to the front, she was shot in the head from behind. When we moved her to lay her down on the floor, she had a live grenade in her hand.”
He also described another woman, saying: “She was naked, it was hard to identify her, her face was brutally abused. Her body was abused. She had nails and different objects in her personal female areas. In that same house, there was another body [and] we could not identify if it was a man or a woman because the body was cut to pieces.”
Mendes described in detail the bodies she dealt with in the weeks after the massacre.
She said: “Women had grimaces, their mouths were contorted, their eyes were open, their hands were clenched. It was clear these women died in agony.
"There were times that they were shot in the head and there was no blood that came out, so they were probably shot after they were dead. It seemed like there was an intentional obliteration of these women’s faces; to erase their faces so their parents or loved ones could not see these people.”
When her unit unzipped the body bags, Mendes recalled, “we never knew what we would see.”
“We saw several severed heads. One still had a large kitchen knife stuck in the neck.”
“On several occasions, we received very burnt pieces of human remains; they did not look human, they had no shape, no arms, no legs... We sometimes had nothing but ashes; we sifted through them and respectfully buried them.”
Mendes said that identifying the victims took weeks: “There are still some parts that have not been identified.”
Her unit made up of ordinary civilians worked in 36-hour long shifts, “for the first few weeks we slept there.”
“It was important to our unit to give these women the respect that the barbarians did not give them in death. We took the time to think about who they were; to think these could have been our daughters. We took the time to give them honour and respect, and to love them.”
Minister for Women and Equalities, Kemi Badenoch MP condemned sexual violence “unequivocally” saying: “The UK stands in solidarity with all of the survivors and victims of these barbaric acts.”
“We condemn sexual violence unequivocally and call on all reports to be fully investigated.”
Labour MP Margaret Hodge said: “All too often, the perpetrators [of sexual violence] go unpunished and the crime is ignored.”
“We also know that for every act of sexual violence in conflict, there are probably another ten to twenty cases that go unreported.”