Ref: 120/2013

 

In 1999, the UN designated 25th
November of each year as the UN International Day for the Elimination of
Violence against Women. This designation comes as part of the UN efforts to
curb violence against women in the world.

 

Over the past years, Palestinian women have
been extensively subjected to violence due to the exceptional conditions they live
under.  They have been subjected to
violations of human rights by Israeli occupation forces, which have made them
endure very severe living conditions, and on the other hand, they have been
subjected to violence practiced against them by the society. 

 

This year, the International Day for the
Elimination of Violence against Women comes while the human rights situation in
the occupied Palestinian territory, especially in the Gaza Strip, is
deteriorating.  Israel has maintained
punitive policies against the Palestinian civilian population, especially the
closure policy and restrictions on the right to freedom of movement, which have
impacted Palestinian women, who are also subjected to domestic violence. 

 

The Israeli-imposed closure on the Gaza Strip
that has been ongoing for the seventh consecutive year has led to very severe
living conditions for the Gaza Strip’s population, including women.  Israeli authorities have continued to close
all border crossings of the Gaza Strip, undermining the economic, social and
cultural rights of about 1,6 million Palestinians, and denying them their basic
needs.  The closure has led to
deterioration of the economic conditions in the Gaza Strips, and consequently
poverty rates among Palestinian families have mounted to 38.8%, including 21.1%
of the families that live in extreme poverty, according to the Palestinian
Central Bureau of Statistics’ data in 2013. 

 

The current deterioration of economic and
social conditions denies Palestinian women their various rights, including the
right to adequate living conditions, and complicates their lives since they are
especially vulnerable to the deterioration of the human rights situation.  Consequently, the social life of women has
been impacted, and domestic violence against them has escalated. 

 

The suffering of Palestinian women because of
Israeli violations of human rights is not limited to facing the tragic impacts
of the closure, as they are subjected to killings, injuries, detentions and
home demolitions.  According to PCHR’s
documentation, this year, Lubna Muneer al-Hantash, 21, was killed by Israeli
forces, in a crime that reflects their disregard for the lives of Palestinian
civilians.   On 23 January 2013, Israeli
forces positioned at a military checkpoint near al-‘Arroub College in Hebron
opened fire at Palestinian civilian vehicles killing al-Hantash with bullets to
the head and the chest. 

 

On 27 September 2013, Randa Abdul Hafez
al-Qassir, 49, from Rafah, died of wounds she had sustained on 01 May 2001 when
she was near her home, because of which she had been suffering from
paralysis. 

 

According to PCHR’s documentation, 11
Palestinian women have been wounded by Israeli forces in the West Bank and the
Gaza Strip since the beginning of 2013.

 

At the level of domestic violence against
women, 9 Palestinian women have been killed in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip
since the beginning of 2013.  Three of
these women were killed for the so-called “family honor,” while the other six
ones were killed in incidents related to the phenomenon of misuse of weapons
and security chaos. 

 

Palestinian women have continued to suffer
restrictions imposed by the society, for which PCHR has repeatedly expressed
concerned.  For instance, some provisions
of the Education Law No. 1 of 2013 seek to impose segregation between the two
genders at schools, including banning the employment of male teachers at female
schools. 

 

Additionally, some domestic laws that have many
flaws, and which violate international human rights standards, especially those
related to the minimum age of marriage, are still in force.  The marriage of two minors in the northern
Gaza Strip has recently drawn the attention to the inherent flaws in relevant
laws and the need to amend them to conform to international human rights
standards. 

 

In light of the continuous suffering of
Palestinian women, PCHR stresses that the population of the Gaza Strip,
especially women and children, is badly in need for support by the
international community, which has several obligations, including compelling
Israeli occupation forces to respect human rights and stop policies that
undermine or violate these rights.  PCHR
calls also for ending the Palestinian political split and activating the Palestinian
Legislative Council as a step towards confronting domestic violence against
women and ensuring consistency of laws related to women with relevant
international standards. 

 

 

 

In this context, PCHR:

 

1. Calls
upon the international community to promptly take an action to pressurize
Israel to respect human rights, be committed to the international humanitarian
law and stop violations against Palestinian civilians, especially the closure
imposed on the Gaza Strip which deprives them, including women, of their rights
that are ensured under the international law;

2. Calls
upon the two Palestinian governments in Gaza and Ramallah top take necessary
action to stop domestic violence and prosecute the perpetrators of crimes
against women;

3. Calls
upon the two parties to the political split to consider the interests of the
Palestinian population, and immediately end the split and activate the
legislature to endure enacting and amending laws related to women to be
consistent with relevant international standards.