Carmel Pelunsky
Working it out in organisations across the world

Dear colleagues – 240

With all the noise surrounding October 7th, I realised that I have spent hardly any time lately thinking about what actually happened on that day. Cochav Elkayam-Levy reminded me.

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Elkayam-Levy is a Sophie Davis Post-Doctoral Fellow at Hebrew University’s Leonard Davis Institute’s program on Gender, Conflict Resolution, and a lecturer at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and at Reichman University. In an interview with Amanda Borschel-Dan, (May 31st, 2024), I learnt about the painstaking care, thoughtfulness and intellectual rigor, with which Elkayam-Levy and her team are documenting Hamas’s use of systemic and systematic rape and sexual violence against women, and the targeted, horrific attacks on families on October 7th. Working with Professor Irwin Kottler, the former Justice Minister of Canada (2003- 2006) and a globally recognized expert in humanitarian law, Elkayam-Levy and her team coined a new word.

“Kinoside” is now being defined as the targeted murder of families. Elkayam-Levy explains the horror of families’ last moments. She says, “The hardest videos that we have in our in our archives are actually those of families…families in their last moments…the children are screaming, little children….the parents’ eyes are terrified…we only see fractions of what they experienced for hours…families were separated, brutally abused …these materials, I can’t even breath speaking of them…I think we are seeing the kind of abuse that is not yet defined in international law…family abuse that is so devastating, so cruel that I think we are seeing a new crime against humanity.” (Borschel-Dan, 2024, 20:20).

As of today, there are circa 121 hostages in Gaza. We do not know the exact number. Each of them has spent the last 240 days existing in a system that brutally raped, butchered, burnt and beheaded the people that surrounded them, those they loved, those they were dancing with, those they were trying to protect. Five eighteen-year-old girls were captured from their post on the border, watched girls next to them murdered, likely raped, before being driven off to the tunnels. Women and men who were killed were dragged through the streets of Gaza to much cheering and some spitting.

Elkayam-Levy’s work is a reminder of the importance of bearing witness. We will never know exactly how many people were raped or what precise torture each victim experienced. That makes it even more important to document every single piece of evidence we can find. Find a moment of silence amidst the noise. Find a moment of silence and listen. Find a moment to bear witness to what occurred, as we begin to forge a narrative of the horrors as yet untold.

Elkayam Levy was recently awarded the Israel Prize, the highest honor the state of Israel bestows, for her work.

Borschel-Dan, A. (2024, May). What Matters Now to law expert Cochav Elkayam-Levy: Denialism of Oct. 7 sexual violence. What Matters Now. The Pod-Waves.

About the Author
Carmel Pelunsky is a strategic advisor in talent, leadership and succession. Currently living in Sydney, Australia, she has lived and worked in Johannesburg, London, Europe and Asia.