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newsIsrael at War

Not enough therapists for victims of Hamas sexual abuse

The terrorists murdered most of the victims and witnesses on Oct. 7.

Demonstrators protest against Hamas's sexual violence against women during the Oct. 7 massacre, outside U.N. headquarters in New York, Dec. 4, 2023. Photo by Yakov Binyamin/Flash90.
Demonstrators protest against Hamas's sexual violence against women during the Oct. 7 massacre, outside U.N. headquarters in New York, Dec. 4, 2023. Photo by Yakov Binyamin/Flash90.

Immediately after Hamas’s Oct. 7 invasion of the northwestern Negev, Israel’s Ministry of Welfare and Social Affairs allocated four million shekels ($1.1 million) to treat women whom the terrorists sexually assaulted, government representatives told the Knesset Health Committee on Monday.

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

“The attack revealed the depths of evil and satanism of the Hamas terrorists, which shock and horrify anyone who is exposed to them. It is our duty to make sure that the survivors are provided adequate and exhaustive care, and appropriate accompaniment for victims of sexual abuse,” said committee chairman MK Yonatan Mashriki.

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

The full scope of the rapes may never be known because most of the victims and witnesses were murdered by Hamas on Oct. 7.

MK Pnina Tamano-Shata noted that many of the murdered and the abducted were subjected to severe 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 Survivors of Sexual Violence Advocacy Group (SSVAG), even before the war there was a lack of budgets for the training of sexual trauma therapists. The funding that was intended for this purpose has since been switched to the treatment of general trauma.

Dr. Tzvia Seligman, director of the Lotem Center for Treatment of Sexual Trauma at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center (Ichilov Hospital), said the center 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, and around 5,000 were wounded.

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