Eleven Israeli men have been charged with crimes relating to the alleged gang-rape of a girl in the Red Sea resort of Eilat last month, in a case that caused a wave of revulsion across the country.
Four are charged with raping the 16-year old, while others are charged with committing indecent acts. Israeli media at the time said up to 30 men were involved.
Most of those charged are considered minors under Israeli law, but prosecutors have named three adult defendants – Osher Shlomo, Ilizir Meirov and Issy Rafailov.
Media commentators have drawn comparisons to the alleged gang-rape of a British teen by 12 Israelis in the Cypriot resort of Ayia Napa last summer. Within days of the incident, all 12 flew back to Israel to a hero’s welcome, while the girl was charged with lying and detained in Cyprus for five months.
The Eilat incident has led to survivors of sexual assault in Israel calling for urgent action, with protests held in support of the teenager, who has not been named due to her age.
“I hope this will be a game-changer,” said Orit Sulitzeanu, director of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, speaking to the Guardian. “This is a big thing that never happened before, and we really feel the public support is strong.”
Campaigners say 84 percent of sexual offence cases in Israel are dropped without charges being brought and that this contributes to widely acknowledged under-reporting, with just one in ten Israeli victims going to the police.
Israeli president Reuven Rivlin has called the cases “stains that cannot be deleted,” with an “unforgivable loss of boundaries”. He added: “They destroy us as a society, as humans. They make us miserable and there is no way to repair them.”