Hamas still holds 136 hostages (Reuters)
Night after night, Yoni Saadon, 39, wakes up distraught to women’s faces. First, that of the young woman who was hiding next to her under the stage of the Supernova festival, where she had been dancing to electronic music as the sun rose on October 7 and Hamas militants opened fire.
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“He fell to the ground, shot in the head, and I pulled his body over me and covered myself with his blood to make it look like I was dead too,” he said. “I will never forget his face. Every night I wake up with her and ask for her forgiveness saying ‘I’m sorry.’”
After an hour, Yoni Saadon appeared. “I saw this woman with the face of an angel and eight or ten of the terrorists beating and raping her. She screamed: ‘Stop, I’m going to die anyway because of what you’re doing, kill me!’ When they finished they were laughing and the last one shot him in the head.
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“I kept thinking that it could have been one of my daughters,” says the father of four children. “Or my sister: she had bought him a ticket, but at the last minute she couldn’t come.”
The horror did not end there. Hiding in some bushes, he saw two other Hamas fighters. “They had grabbed a young woman near a car and she resisted, she wouldn’t let them undress her. They threw her to the ground and one of the terrorists took a shovel and decapitated her and her head rolled on the ground. I see that head too,” he says.
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Saadon, a shift manager at a foundry, told his story to The Sunday Times at a support area set up in Sitria, southeast of Tel Aviv, for festival survivors.
Three times a week, survivors from all over Israel meet with parents whose children were among those massacred.
Among the volunteer therapists, The Times says, was Bar Yuval-Shani, 58, who lost his only sister, Deborah, and his brother-in-law, Shlomi Matias, both musicians and peace activists, murdered in the Holit kibbutz. by terrorists who broke into his safe room. “She was eight years younger, but she was like we were twins,” she says through tears. “She kept all her secrets and I miss her so much.”
Deborah died protecting her 16-year-old son Rotem, who was shot in the abdomen and hid for nine hours as the fighters returned again and again, and Yuval-Shani gave him advice by phone on how to treat himself.
Hamas shows Israeli women kidnapped and raped
Yoni Saadon’s account is one of several rape testimonies Yuval-Shani has heard from festival survivors, all of whom, she says, are “deeply traumatized.”
There is growing evidence of the widespread violations that occurred on October 7. So far, investigators have collected “more than 1,500 shocking and painful testimonies” from witnesses, pathologists and doctors, a police officer testified this week in the Israeli Parliament.
“The torture of women was used as a weapon to destroy communities, to destroy a people, to destroy a nation,” said Cochav Elkayam Levy, director of a non-governmental commission investigating the crimes perpetrated against women and children on October 7.