By Emily Rose
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel police have launched an investigation into allegations of sexual violence during the deadly October attack by Hamas gunmen on Israeli communities around the Gaza Strip, officials said on Tuesday.
The probe was complex and would likely take months, Chief Superintendent David Katz of the national unit for serious and organized crime told reporters at police headquarters in Beit Shemesh.
The investigation is particularly complex because gun battles between Israeli forces and Hamas militants had gone on for days at some of the suspected crime scenes, said Katz. Some of the victims are dead while survivors are struggling with trauma.
“It’s much more complicated because there is the matter of time that passed since the actions until we could reach the bodies, some of them were lying there for days,” Katz said. “Second of all – the trauma for the victims.”
It will take time, Katz said, until survivors will be able to express their ordeal.
“We have other solid information about the crimes including sexual assaults, from eyewitnesses, from forensics which we are still examining, from statements from other participants.”
Around 1,200 people were killed, according to Israeli tallies, and some 240 were taken hostage, including children, after Hamas gunmen crossed the border and attacked Israeli towns and villages.
Israel in response has vowed to wipe out Hamas, launching an air, sea and ground offensive that has killed more than 11,000 people, including many children, according to medical officials in Hamas-run Gaza.
No comment was immediately available from Hamas.
(Reporting by Emily Rose; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)