Not enough therapists for hamas sexual abuse victims, Knesset told

December 19, 2023 by Pesach Benson
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Israel’s Health Ministry allocated four million shekels (US$1.1 million) to treat women whom Hamas terrorists sexually assaulted on October 7.

The Israeli Knesset building in Jerusalem on March 27, 2023. Photo by Kobi Natan/TPS

The announcement was made as Knesset lawmakers were told there weren’t enough therapists to help the victims.

“The attack revealed the depths of evil and satanism of the Hamas terrorists, which shocks and horrifies anyone who is exposed to them. It is our duty to make sure that the survivors are given adequate, exhaustive care, and appropriate accompaniment for sexually victims,” said committee chairman MK Yoni Mashriki.

Dr. Zohar Sahar, director of the Health Ministry’s Department for the Treatment of Sexual Assault, told lawmakers that all government ministries are working in coordination and pooling resources to treat the victims.

The true scope of the rapes may never be known because most of the victims and witnesses were massacred by Hamas on October 7. MK Pnina Tamano-Shata noted that many of the murdered and abducted were subjected to severe and horrific sexual abuse and that the victims who were rescued find it difficult to share their stories.

Health officials and advocates for the victims warned the committee of a shortage of therapists who specialize in cases of sexual abuse.

According to Miriam Gavram, deputy director of the Lobby for the Fight Against Sexual Violence, even before the war, there was a lack of budget for the training of sexual trauma therapists. The budget which was intended for this purpose has since been converted to the treatment of general trauma.

Tzvia Zeligman, director of the centre for the treatment of sexual abuse in Tel Aviv’s Ichilov Hospital, said the centre is treating dozens of victims from the Hamas attack despite a shortage of therapists.

At least 1,200 people were killed in Hamas’s attacks on Israeli communities near the Gaza border on Oct. 7. The number of men, women, children, soldiers and foreigners held captive in Gaza by Hamas is now believed to be 129. Other people remain unaccounted for as Israeli authorities continue to identify bodies and search for human remains.

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