Rape case that roiled Israel falls apart, with 12 suspects freed

An Israeli teenager was embraced by relatives after being released from police headquarters in Paralimni, Cyprus, on Sunday
An Israeli teenager was embraced by relatives after being released from police headquarters in Paralimni, Cyprus, on SundayPetros Karadjias/Associated Press/Associated Press

JERUSALEM — An allegation of gang rape at a Cyprus resort that produced a bout of national soul searching in Israel took a dramatic turn Sunday with the release of the remaining teenage Israeli suspects and the arrest of the woman who accused them.

A dozen Israelis, ranging in age from 15 to 18, had been arrested in the case, in which a 19-year-old British woman said they had raped her in a hotel room in the Cyprus resort town of Ayia Napa.

Five of the suspects were freed Thursday and returned to Israel. The others were freed Sunday without conditions, according to their lawyers and police.


The woman was charged with making a false accusation, according to a police spokesman. She was due to appear in court Monday, he said by phone.

Neither the woman nor the suspects have been publicly identified.

According to law enforcement officials, the woman said she was gang raped July 17, and the first details of the case emerged with the arrest of the Israelis and their subsequent arraignment in a Cyprus court July 18.

The 12 Israelis were investigated on charges of rape and conspiracy to commit a felony, said Yaniv Habari, a lawyer representing three of the suspects. Speaking by phone from Cyprus on Sunday, he added that the police conducted DNA tests and seized 11 cellphones to examine videos and other evidence.

DNA tests indicated that three of the suspects had had some form of sexual contact with the woman, according to the lawyers for the detainees. But their clients said the encounter had been consensual. It was not clear how or whether the other nine suspects were involved.

Habari said that one of his clients had an alibi and another said that he had not been in the room where the alleged attack took place.


Lawyers representing the suspects told reporters that the 12 had traveled to the resort in three separate groups that did not know one another.

The case has roiled Israel, where the reaction has revolved around concerns about victim shaming and about the pressures in Israeli society to prove manliness.