Sleep is torture for Yoni Saadon, a 39-year-old father of four, who wakes with the faces of the women he saw slaughtered by Hamas terrorists who raided the Supernova music festival on October 7.
One young woman in particular haunts his dreams.
She was hiding next to him under the stage when Hamas opened fire.
“She fell to the ground, shot in the head, and I pulled her body over me and smeared her blood on me so it would look as if I was dead too,” Saadon told the UK’s Sunday Times. “I will never forget her face. Every night I wake to it and apologise to her, saying ‘I’m sorry’.”
And then there’s that other face — the “face of an angel.”
He saw her an hour later when he dared to peek out of his hiding spot.
“I saw this beautiful woman with the face of an angel and eight or ten of the fighters beating and raping her,” Saadon recalled. “She was screaming, ‘Stop it — already I’m going to die anyway from what you are doing, just kill me!'”
“When they finished they were laughing and the last one shot her in the head,” he continued. “I kept thinking it could have been one of my daughters. Or my sister — I had bought her a ticket but last minute she couldn’t come.”
The savagery is almost too much to bear.
From a hiding spot behind some bushes, Saadon saw two Hamas fighters attacking another “young woman.”
“They had caught a young woman near a car and she was fighting back, not allowing them to strip her,” he said. “They threw her to the ground and one of the terrorists took a shovel and beheaded her and her head rolled along the ground.”
“I see that head too,” he added.
Three times a week, survivors of the targeted festival and family members of those who didn’t make it out gather in Sitria, southwest of Tel Aviv, to support each other through their devastating grief and trauma. Volunteer therapists are on hand to help, including Bar Yuval-Shani, whose only sister, Deborah, and brother-in-law, Shlomi Matias, were murdered in the Holit kibbutz by Hamas militants who stormed into their safe room. They were both musicians and peace activists.
“She was eight years younger but [it was] as if we were twins,” Yuval-Shani said through tears. “I held all her secrets and I miss her terribly.”
“Deborah died shielding her son Rotem, 16, who was shot in the abdomen then hid for nine hours as fighters returned again and again, and Yuval-Shani guided him over the phone in how to treat himself,” The Times reports.
Shelly Harush is a police commander tasked with leading an investigation into sexual violence and crimes against women at the hands of Hamas.
“It’s clear now that sexual crimes were part of the planning and the purpose was to terrify and humiliate people,” she said.
Thousands of statements, photographs, and video clips have been collected by investigators — clips that Harush says, “as a Jewish mother the mind and soul cannot bear,” including “girls whose pelvises were broken they had been raped so much.”
As victims of Hamas’s terror — both those still living, and the bodies of those who were killed — initially began arriving at Israeli hospitals, rape kits or questions about sexual abuse were not provided, but those who were collecting the bodies “began reporting that many of the women were naked and bleeding from the genitals,” according to The Times.
“We collected 1,000 bodies in ten days from the festival site and kibbutzim,” Haim Outmezgine said. “No one saw more than us. It was clear they were trying to spread as much horror as they could — to kill, to burn alive, to rape … it seemed their mission was to rape as many as possible.”
Outmezgine heads a religious organization that collects the remains of the dead for burial in accordance with Jewish tradition.
“His team are all receiving therapy,” The Times reports.
Dr. Cochav Elkayam-Levy is an expert on international law and is heading a civilian commission into Hamas crimes against women on October 7. She can’t understand why UN Women and other international bodies are staying silent in the face of such horrors.
“On the eighth day she gathered a group of international law and women’s rights experts, including 160 law professors, and drafted letters to UN agencies sharing everything,” according to The Times. “The initial response, she says, was silence.”
“It was absurd that it was so documented yet accompanied by so much silence,” Elkayam-Levy said. “One of the UN’s own values is ‘‘believe women’ as crimes against women are always denied but they failed to believe us — the very organisations meant to protect us failed us.”
UN Women finally issued a statement condemning the October 7 attacks on Friday.
“We unequivocally condemn the brutal attacks by Hamas on Israel on 7 October,” the organization said. “We are alarmed by the numerous accounts of gender-based atrocities and sexual violence during those attacks.”
We unequivocally condemn the brutal attacks by Hamas on Israel on 7 October.
We are alarmed by the numerous accounts of gender-based atrocities and sexual violence during those attacks.
— UN Women (@UN_Women) December 2, 2023
But for many, the statement was too little and it came too late.
“Why are you only saying this now? At this point, why bother saying anything at all?” asked one user on X.
“On October 7th @UN_Women was busy posting online about how apparently men are lesbians too because apparently men can be women if they say so,” the user noted. “Meanwhile videos were circulating from Hamas, of women and GIRLS who were being brutally raped, tortured and murdered – their biology is the reason they were chosen for sexual abuse – how else do you think those MEN knew which ones to rape?”
Why are you only saying this now?
At this point, why bother saying anything at all?
On October 7th @UN_Women was busy posting online about how apparently men are lesbians too because apparently men can be women if they say so.
Meanwhile videos were circulating from Hamas, of…
— TheFamousArtistBirdyRose (@TheFamousArtBR) December 2, 2023
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