The International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, 25 November, is celebrated today as it marks the first day of the United Nations’ 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, which lasts until Human Rights day 10 December, emphasizing the strong relation between human rights and violence against women, as the latter is the most widespread and continuous human rights violation.
Today is commemorated while Palestinian women suffer a deteriorating human rights situation across the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and particularly in the Gaza Strip due to the ongoing Israeli crimes against Palestinian civilians, the last of which was the Israeli attack 12-14 November 2019 which resulted in the killing of (34) Palestinians, including (15) civilians: (8) children and (3) women. Furthermore, (61) were wounded, including (54) civilians, including (27) children, and (8) women. Additionally, (45) housing units were destroyed, including (8) units were completely destroyed and (37) were partly destroyed.
The last attack on Gaza was accompanied with the ongoing unjust and illegal Israeli closure that has affected all aspects of civilian life, especially women who were heavily burdened and subjected to further suffering particularly as members of a patriarchate society. Women have always been victims of discrimination marginalization and poverty whether in times of peace or war.
Furthermore, Palestinian women suffered during their participation in the Great March of Return (GMR) protests that have been ongoing on a weekly basis since 30 March 2018. According to PCHR’s documentation, Israeli occupation forces (IOF) shot and killed 4 paramedics, including Rozan al-Najjar, and injured 477 women at GMR. Women’s suffering was not limited to direct targeting, as they endured severe pain with the loss of loved ones, especially if it is a husband or a son who provides for the family. Additionally, some of the women injured at GMR became with disabilities, exacerbating their suffering and marginalization in the society.
Violence against Palestinian women continued in light of the deterioration of economic, social and living conditions in the Palestinian society. This year only, PCHR documented the killing of 13 women in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip on different grounds and in mysterious circumstances, including 3 murdered on grounds of “family honor.” Of the most prominent crimes was the killing of Isra’a Gharib in Bethlehem, which stirred public opinion and forced the Public Prosecution to open investigation into the crime circumstances. The investigation results indicted 3 of the victim’s relatives and brought them to justice.
The Gaza Strip has witnessed 2 awful crimes in recent months; the first was in September 2019 against a 31-year-old woman, who was found buried in her father’s courtyard in Beit Lahia on 14 October 2019. The second crime was on 06 November 2019 against a 19-year-old girl, from Deir al-Balah, who was dead upon her arrival at al-Aqsa Hospital showing signs of torture.
Additionally, the continued Palestinian political division has also aggravated the suffering of women, as it hinders fair and just legislations for women, and protect those victimized by violence.
PCHR notes with concern the growing phenomenon of Gender-Based Violence (GBV), including murders on different grounds against Palestinian woman. PCHR calls for opening serious investigations into these crimes and their motives, considering them as murders regardless of any justifications claimed by the defendants to receive a lesser sentence. PCHR also calls for imposing deterrent penalties against perpetrators.
In light of the increasing suffering of Palestinian women, PCHR:
- Stresses that the international community has to fulfill its obligations, primarily offering protection to civilians, especially children and women, and obliging Israel to respect humanitarian law and international human rights law.
- Calls upon the Human Rights Council and contracting bodies of international conventions, especially CEDAW, to follow up, report on Israeli crimes, and reveal their devastating impact on women.
PCHR also calls upon the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to:
- Take necessary action to stop domestic violence;
- Approve the “Family Protectionfrom Violence” Act; and
- Fulfill its obligations under CEDAW and ensure that the legislations and laws are consistent with the principle of justice and non-discrimination.