On 25 November of each year, the world celebrates the UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women as part of ongoing efforts to encourage governments, non-governmental organizations, community powers and media to employ their efforts and resources to organize cultural activities in order to raise the community awareness on violence against women.
This year, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women comes while the human rights situation in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) is deteriorating. Since early October 2015, Israeli forces have killed 89 Palestinian civilians, including 10 women and 5 children, and wounded around 1000 civilians, including 14 women.
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) documented willful killings of Palestinian civilians, including women and girls, under the pretext or suspicion of carrying out stab attacks without posing any threat to the Israeli soldiers. This means Israeli forces carried out summary executions. In many cases, victims were left bleeding to death without receiving immediate medical aid. In one of those cold-blooded crimes, on 25 October 2015, Israeli forces killed Dalia Jihad Irshaid (17) while her schoolbag was being searched by Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint near al-Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron although she did not pose any threat to the Israeli soldiers. Moreover, on 22 September 2015, Hadil al-Hashlamoun (18) was shot dead by Israeli soldiers from a range of 3 meters when she was crossing a military checkpoint in the center of Hebron under the pretext of having a knife. The Israeli soldiers prevented a Palestine Red Crescent Society’s (PRCS) ambulance from approaching al-Hashlamoun and offering her first aid. They left her bleeding to death.
This day comes again while women in the Gaza Strip have been suffering due to the impacts of the 2014 offensive on the Gaza Strip in addition to the killings, house demolitions and internal displacement of hundred thousands of civilians. As a result, women continued to suffer as hundreds of families still live in harsh and complicated conditions due to the delay of the reconstruction process. Their suffering also continued due to the Israeli-imposed closure on the Gaza Strip, which is a grave violation of human rights and international humanitarian law, including the closure of border crossings that result in banning dozens of women from receiving medical treatment abroad. Furthermore, Israeli airstrikes carried out on the Gaza Strip every once in a while inflict civilian casualties. The latest of which was the killing of 5-month pregnant Nour Rasmi Hassan and her 3-year-old child Rahaf Yehya Hassan during an Israeli attack on their house in al-Zaitoun neighborhood, east of Gaza, on 11 October 2015.
The Palestinian women have been suffering due to discrimination and violence practiced against them and denial of gender equality in all aspects of life. Furthermore, killing women is still a threat to the community, as it results in social disintegration and insecurity. PCHR documented the killing of 7 women in the Gaza Strip and West Bank on different grounds and in mysterious circumstances since the beginning of the year. One of the killing cases was on grounds of the so-called “family honor”.
The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) stresses the importance of the international community support to prosecute Israel before the International Criminal Court (ICC) to put an end to the Israeli violations in the oPt that inflict many causalities among women and children.
In addition, PCHR calls for immediate intervention to oblige Israel to stop its violations committed by Israeli forces in the West Bank and Jerusalem and to lift up the Israeli closure imposed on the Gaza Strip to allow civilians, including women, to enjoy their rights guaranteed in the international laws.
In light of the suffering of Palestinian women, PCHR:
- Emphasizes that the international community has to fulfill its obligations, the most important of which are offering protection to civilians and obliging the occupying power to respect human rights;
- Calls upon the international community to promptly act to pressurize Israel to respect human rights, be committed to the provisions of international humanitarian law and put an end to its continuous violations against civilians, especially the closure imposed on the Gaza Strip which deprives them, including women, of their rights to live in dignity;
- Calls upon the Palestinian Authority (PA)and Palestinian unity government to take necessary action to stop domestic violence and prosecute the perpetrators of crimes against women;
- Calls the PA to fulfill their obligations stipulated in the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and deal with all aspects of discrimination against women and effective implementation of a strategy combating violence against women and
- Emphasizes that the continued disruption of the Palestinian Legislative Council prevents the adoption of more equitable laws in order to offer women more protection.