Police: We have solved the gang-rape case of the 16-year-old in Eilat

"The victim's testimony was found to be credible and supporting evidence has been found," the police said.

Israelis take part in a demonstration in support of the 16-year-old victim of a gang rape in Eilat, Tel Aviv, August 23, 2020 (photo credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)
Israelis take part in a demonstration in support of the 16-year-old victim of a gang rape in Eilat, Tel Aviv, August 23, 2020
(photo credit: TOMER NEUBERG/FLASH90)
The case of the gang-rape of a 16-year-old girl in Eilat’s Red Sea Hotel has been solved, and all of the suspects have been arrested or contacted, Israel Police announced Thursday evening.
“The victim’s testimony was found to be credible and enforcing evidence has been found,” the police said.
The investigative team found and tracked down a total of 17 suspects related to the violent affair, 14 of whom are currently under arrest. Ten of the suspects arrested are minors; three of those arrested were released from police custody under restrictive conditions.
One of the main suspects told members of the press earlier in the afternoon that he did not participate in the rape, but rather that he had attempted to help the victim. “There will come a time when the truth will come out,” he said.
The suspect later admitted to documenting the brutal act, although he proceeded to deny participating in the sexual assault itself. His arrest was extended by six days, as was the arrest of two other suspects.
After approximately two weeks of investigations, the police team that had been working on the case – made up of over 20 investigators – claimed to have found the truth.
The victim, who has been severely mentally harmed by the affair, is being closely accompanied by a youth investigator. She, as well as the friend with whom she had traveled to Eilat, are receiving a “network of security” from the police.
The victim, a 16-year-old girl, was vacationing with a friend in Eilat and had become inebriated when she was gang-raped by a group of men. Although the original number of suspects stood at 30, that number has slowly decreased and now, according to police, stands at 17.
Among those who were involved, police claim that some took part in the act while others filmed and documented it.
The police had previously arrested the manager of the hotel, Pnina Maman, under suspicion of disrupting the investigation proceedings and failing to prevent the crime.
Prior to her arrest, Maman had told N12 that there is no proof that the incident had occurred in the hotel. This came after police announced that they had acquired security footage from the hotel proving otherwise.
She told N12 the day after the investigation was announced publicly: “I very much want to see the video... We do not deserve all of this shaming.”
Soon afterward, one of the suspects told the court that he “saw someone who looks like the security officer of the hotel next to the manager of the hotel... we did not understand why they did not do anything.”
Maman was arrested and, on Monday, she burst into tears in the courtroom, explaining that she was also raped when she was 14 years old. She claimed to have not known about the incident, but the judge expressed doubt regarding her claim. She was nevertheless placed under house arrest.
Meanwhile, the hotel security chief told N12 that “the girl and her friend had a hand in the affair.” Despite blaming the victim, he essentially conceded that the rape had occurred in the Red Sea Hotel.
Throughout the investigation, police claimed repeatedly that more and more evidence was coming out which further strengthened the victim’s claims.
An Eilat school where a handful of the underage suspects are enrolled stated that it will be taking a number of steps to both examine their own responsibility in the affair, as well as to prevent future students in the facility from carrying out similar acts.
Another school in the South attended by some of the rape suspects announced a six-year program that will deal with improving student safety and the educational environment.
“The investigation into the rape case in Eilat is progressing, but the reality of women in Israel is uncertain and requires a profound change that must begin first and foremost with policy,” organizers of Israel’s Women’s March told The Jerusalem Post. “We must make sure that rape culture is not a part of our area, and we demand what we deserve from the decision-makers and budget-funders: to ensure that the plan to prevent violence is funded, and that the plans and reforms in the ministries of health, welfare, education and justice, and the Police are executed.”
“There is much to do,” they concluded. “We are doing what we can. It’s time for them to do something too.”
Tobias Siegal and Eve Young contributed to this report.