Six years ago, a 13 year-old Israeli woman was raped by four young Palestinians from the Shu’afat refugee camp. It happened when she was walking home, in a town located near the Hizma checkpoint. The four Arabs were convicted and imprisoned.
On Monday morning, a judicial review panel assembled in the Tel Aviv District Court to discuss at the Young woman’s appeal of a decision of the Defense Ministry not to recognize her rape as an act of terrorism, as she had requested.
In Israel, a Victim of Terrorism is a person injured as a result of a terrorist act committed for nationalistic reasons, in Israel or abroad.
Victims of terrorist attacks are eligible for compensation, pursuant to the Compensation for Victims of Hostilities Act of 1970.
During the hearing, the young woman’s attorney, Roni Aloni-Sadovnik, a well known feminist lawyer, tried to convince the panel of judges, headed by Retired Tel Aviv District Court Judge Nissim Yeshaya, that there are cases of rape whose circumstances justify recognition as an act of terrorism committed for nationalistic reasons.
Attorney Aloni-Sadovnik later described the scene that ensued to Israel Army Radio: “In the midst of the passionate debate, he (Judge Yeshaya) suddenly said aloud, in earshot of everyone present, ‘There are some girls who enjoy being raped.’”
“The room fell into silence,” the attorney continued her description. “Even the panel members were silent for several minutes. And he didn’t even get what he had just said. He didn’t understand why everyone became quiet all of a sudden.”
The rape victim was very upset and very hurt. Two panel members tried to calm the situation down and minimize the damage of the judge’s statement.
“I have no doubt he did not say these things out of malice or with an evil intent,” Aloni-Sadovnik commented. “The problem is that this is the state of mind, this is the thinking this is the prejudice against victims of sexual assault. We encounter only the tip of the iceberg when judges trip themselves and express to what’s really in their hearts.”
Courts Administration responded that “things were said in the heat of the debate, and that there was no intention to hurt or belittle the plight of rape victims. The Judge apologizes for the things he said. The Court Administration will review the case and the retired judge will be summoned for a clarification in the coming days.”