Police in Israel investigating the alleged gang-rape of a 16-year-old girl say the ‘shocking’ attack went on ‘for many hours’ as they arrested two more suspects.
The new suspects, both minors, were arrested on Monday for questioning over the incident, which took place at the Red Sea Hotel in Eilat on August 12.
At the same time, one 17-year-old boy was released after investigators found that he was asleep at the time of the attack and there was no evidence of his involvement.
That means the number of rape suspects now stands at 12 – including two adults and ten teenagers. More arrests are expected.
Police investigating an alleged gang-rape at this hotel in southern Israel have arrested two more teenagers and released one without charge, meaning number of suspects stands at 12
A lawyer for the boy who was released told the Times of Israel that he was relieved by the decision, adding: ‘My client was asleep at the time and was not involved.’
Separately, the owner of the hotel and another woman have been arrested for failing to prevent the crime and asking to see video of the alleged assault, respectively.
The hotel owner – named locally as Pnina Maman – was released under house arrest on Monday and ordered not to contact other staff members, Haaretz reported.
Police have been granted additional time to question both main suspects – aged 27 and from northern Israel – and have requested permission to continue quizzing eight of the minors.
Investigators have revealed little about what they believe happened in the hotel room, but a police source told Channel 12 that they find the girl’s allegations ‘credible’ and supported by evidence.
The source said the alleged attack went on ‘for many hours’ and that police have obtained ‘sensitive material’ which they are not disclosing yet.
Witnesses claim the men lined up down the hotel corridor in order to attack the girl, who was not a guest but had gone there to drink with friends.
That account is thought to be backed up by CCTV which shows people gathered in a corridor.
Witnesses also claimed that up to 30 men were involved in the attack, though that figure has since been disputed – including by the victim’s lawyer.
Officers say it is unlikely that the number of assailants is as high as 30, but believe it is in double digits and are not discounting any possibilities.
The 19-year-old woman who was arrested had encouraged people to share video of the attack via WhatsApp, according to police
In a group that was being watched by officers, one member asked whether video of the attack actually existed.
Protests erupted across Israel after police were told that up to 30 men queued down a corridor of the hotel to participate in the alleged attack
Thousands of marchers took to the streets of cities across Israel last week to demand justice for the girl and an end to violence against women
‘Don’t be stingy, share,’ the woman responded.
Police say she admitted sending the message, but denied intending to publish the video online.
The 16-year-old girl is said to be in an unstable mental condition after the incident, but is cooperating with police and is willing to face her alleged attackers in court.
She has been placed under police protection after her personal information began spreading online, amid fears she could be intimidated by the men she is accusing.
Police say she was not a guest at the hotel, but had gone there to drink with friends before being taken to a room in a ‘dazed’ state and assaulted.
A fellow guest at the hotel, who arrived around midnight on the day of the alleged attack, described how people were drinking and smoking throughout the hotel in breach of rules, and that management were uninterested in stopping them.
He added that a large number of young people were gathered in the hallway outside his room which he reported to the manager, but nothing was done about it.
‘I have no idea if they were the ones the police are looking for, but a large group of people had gathered there and were making a lot of noise,’ he said.
He added that people were smoking and drinking in the pool, including throwing their cigarette butts in the water, despite signs banning smoking in the area.
‘There were crazy levels of music and alcohol,’ he added. ‘The lifeguard himself brought out a food container, filled it with ice so the young folks had somewhere to put their alcohol bottles. They simply opened a bar at the pool.
‘I approached the hotel manager to tell her that it was over the top… Her response was: “If you have a problem, you can complain to the municipal inspectors. I don’t check what they’re doing.”‘
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned the alleged attack, calling it a ‘crime against humanity’.
Marchers in Tel Aviv on August 20 demand justice for a 16-year-old who was allegedly gang-raped in a hotel in Eilat, southern Israel
Activists, who took to the streets earlier this year to protest violence towards women in Israel, returned last week to hold demonstrations in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
The protesters united under the banner ‘we won’t be silent anymore’, with around 1,000 in the capital – where protesters briefly blocked traffic – 150 in Jeruselam, and more in Givatayim, Haifa and elsewhere.
Ilana Weizman of women’s rights group HaStickeriot said one in five Israeli women was raped during her lifetime with 260 cases reported every day.
‘We must educate our boys on the issue of consent … from a very young age,’ she said.
Many protesters referred to a case last year, when a 19-year-old British woman claimed she had been gang-raped by 12 Israeli males, aged 15 to 18, at a hotel in Cyprus.
The woman’s allegation led to 12 Israeli men being detained and subsequently released.
She later withdrew her allegation, but claims she was coerced by Cypriot police into dropping the case.
The woman was given a suspended sentence in January this year after being found guilty of public mischief.