A month has passed since the Oct. 7 massacre in which Hamas terrorists slaughtered some 1,400 Israeli residents, but the shocking testimonies are only now emerging as the Israel Police’s special felony unit, Lahav 433, continues with the meticulous documentation of the atrocities.
The detectives have been processing statements of perpetrators and survivors. One of them is a chilling testimony of a young woman who hid with her boyfriend in a shelter, where she witnessed the rape and murder of another Israeli woman.
“I saw them forcing her to bend forward and then someone rape her,” the testimony reads. “They were dressed in olive-toned fatigues, she was alive, and then she fell silent. She was raped and then killed.”
For the first time, the investigators were exposed to messages from ZAKA—Disaster Victim Identification volunteers describing the horrifying scene as they collected bodies and body parts. These testimonies will be used in legal proceedings in the future against Hamas and also as a way to remember the atrocities.
The ZAKA testimonies are graphic and include descriptions of the horrors the volunteers saw when they arrived at the massacre sites to collect the remains of the victims. They, too, confirmed that Hamas terrorists committed sexual offenses against women before killing them.
‘It was hard to tell if it was a man or a woman’
According to the testimonies of the volunteers, there were also sexual abuses against some of the men who were found. In some cases, the victim’s private parts were mutilated. One volunteer said that in many cases, “it was hard to tell if it was a man or a woman.”
Unit Lahav 433 is closely collaborating with the Shin Bet and other security agencies in the interrogation of captured terrorists. Through their investigations, the police aim to assign collective responsibility for the massacre. In one of the investigations, a Hamas operative described how he killed a man and a woman with a hammer.
As part of building the case against the Gaza Islamic terrorist group, the investigators have been collecting testimonies from survivors. “It is challenging to establish contact with people who have undergone such trauma,” members of Lahav 433 said. “It requires emotional and mental intelligence.”
The unit is relating to the atrocity as the biggest case Israel has ever seen, even more significant than senior Nazi Adolf Eichmann’s prosecution for his role in orchestrating the Holocaust. In the case of prisoner exchanges, the testimonies and evidence could also be used in international lawsuits.
One of the horrifying calls that reached the police during the massacre was from a teenage girl.
“I’m a 15-year-old girl, I have school tomorrow,” the girl said on the phone just before the terrorist holding her took her device. The police officer who took the call tried to beg for the girl’s life, but it was in vain, and she was killed.
“A significant portion of the murders were committed by civilians [who crossed the border from Gaza],” the detectives of Lahav 433 disclosed.
The investigators want to prove that the Hamas atrocities were systematic and premeditated. Furthermore, the investigators succeeded in monitoring Hamas groups on Telegram, where terrorists sent some of the documentation of their crimes to encourage one another.
It was revealed in the investigation that for every team of terrorists, there were documenters who recorded the atrocities on GoPro cameras and used smartphones to livestream the massacre to their commanders in Gaza.
At the top levels of Lahav 433, they say that some social networks like Facebook and Instagram cooperate with them, while others have been less cooperative. “Not everyone has shifted to a war mode,” said the police, adding that they estimate it will take many more weeks to collect all the material.
At this stage, the police refuse to disclose whether individuals from within Israel assisted the Hamas attack, but they do say there is evidence that non-residents of Gaza participated in the massacre.
Survivors have reported that they had heard Hamas terrorists speaking among themselves in Persian.
One of the Hamas operatives who was captured said in his interrogation that each cell had a mission, and the terrorists were divided into squads for training. He described how they trained for years. Each cell received a battle plan, and to prevent leaks only the cell leaders were briefed on the actual missions.
The terrorists had ambitious plans, one of which was to take over a community and hold the residents hostage.
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