Israeli prosecutors charge suspects in Eilat gang-rape case
Adults and minors charged over alleged rape of teenager in Red Sea resort
Israeli prosecutors have charged 11 suspects over the alleged gang-rape of a girl in the Red Sea resort of Eilat, a case that has prompted protests and a swell of support for survivors of sexual assault.
Four of the suspects have been indicted on rape charges over the August incident, while the remainder are facing various charges including committing indecent acts.
“The intensive investigation was completed quickly and sensitively in order to search and find the suspects involved in a severe case,” said a police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld.
Local media previously reported that up to 30 people were involved in the alleged incident involving the 16-year-old girl in a hotel room. Those charged include adults and minors, police said.
The complainant and the underage defendants cannot be named for legal reasons. The adult defendants have been named as Osher Shlomo, 19, Ilizir Meirov, 27, and 28-year-old Issy Rafailov.
Multiple protests were held last month in support of the teenager and against sexual violence, while Israelis also staged a mass walkout from workplaces.
“I hope this will be a gamechanger,” said Orit Sulitzeanu, the director of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel. The organisation has had an increase in calls, donations and people wanting to volunteer since the Eilat case.
“This is a big thing that never happened before, and we really feel the public support is strong,” Sulitzeanu said.
According to the association, 84% of sexual offence cases in Israel are dropped without charges being brought. The vast majority of sexual assaults go unreported, with just 10% of people who contact the organisation deciding to go to the police.
The case prompted Israel’s president, Reuven Rivlin, to write an open letter to young Israelis about boundaries.
“Sexual assault, rape, sexual exploitation, sexual violence – these are some of the stains that cannot be deleted,” he wrote in the letter, which was posted on Facebook.
“These are cases of unforgivable loss of boundaries, and they destroy us as a society. As humans. They make us miserable and there is no way to repair them,” the president added.
The Eilat attack came after 12 Israelis were accused of gang-raping a British teenager in the Cypriot resort of Ayia Napa last summer. The accused received a hero’s welcome when they returned to Israel and the handling of the case has been widely criticised.
The British teenager was convicted of public mischief over the claim, spent four weeks in prison and then had to stay on the island for a further five months for court proceedings.
She said she was coerced into signing a confession and has vowed to take the case to Cyprus’s supreme court to try to clear her name.