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Rights experts call for probe into alleged violations against Palestinian women and girls — Global Issues


Palestinian women and girls have reportedly been arbitrarily executed in Gaza, often together with family members, including their children, according to information they have received.

Killed while fleeing

“We are shocked by reports of the deliberate targeting and extrajudicial killing of Palestinian women and children in places where they sought refuge, or while fleeing. Some of them were reportedly holding white pieces of cloth when they were killed by the Israeli army or affiliated forces,” the experts said.

They voiced serious concern about the arbitrary detention of hundreds of Palestinian women and girls, including human rights defenders, journalists and humanitarian workers, in Gaza and the West Bank since the start of the conflict on 7 October following the deadly Hamas terror attacks in Israel.

Many of the detainees have reportedly been subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, denied menstruation pads, food and medicine, and severely beaten, they said. Furthermore, on at least one occasion, Palestinian women detained in Gaza were allegedly kept in a cage in the rain and cold, without food.

Sexual assault in detention

“We are particularly distressed by reports that Palestinian women and girls in detention have also been subjected to multiple forms of sexual assault, such as being stripped naked and searched by male Israeli army officers. At least two female Palestinian detainees were reportedly raped while others were reportedly threatened with rape and sexual violence,” the experts said.

Photos of women detainees in degrading circumstances were also “reportedly taken by the Israeli army” and uploaded online, they added.

The experts were also concerned that an unknown number of Palestinian women and children, including girls, have reportedly gone missing after contact with the Israeli army in Gaza.

“There are disturbing reports of at least one female infant forcibly transferred by the Israeli army into Israel, and of children being separated from their parents, whose whereabouts remain unknown,” they said.

Call for probe

“We remind the Government of Israel of its obligation to uphold the right to life, safety, health, and dignity of Palestinian women and girls and to ensure that no one is subjected to violence, torture, ill-treatment or degrading treatment, including sexual violence.”

The rights experts called for an independent, impartial, prompt, thorough and effective investigation into the allegations and for Israel to cooperate with any probe.

“Taken together, these alleged acts may constitute grave violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, and amount to serious crimes under international criminal law that could be prosecuted under the Rome Statute,” they warned.

The Rome Statute is the July 1998 treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC), which investigates and tries individuals charged with genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression.

Independent voices

The statement was issued by Reem Alsalem, Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences, and Francesca Albanese, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories, alongside the members of the UN Working group on discrimination against women and girls: Dorothy Estrada Tanck (Chair), Claudia Flores, Ivana Krstić, Haina Lu, and Laura Nyirinkindi.

Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to report and advise on specific thematic issues or country situations.

They work on a voluntary basis and are independent of any government or organization. They serve in their individual capacity and are not UN staff and do not receive payment for their work.


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