Palestinian women participate in a rally marking International Women’s Day in Gaza City, 8 March 2008. (Wissam Nassar/MaanImages)
The 8th of March comes this year as Palestinian women face very difficult and harsh circumstances due to human rights violations perpetrated by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) against Palestinian civilians, including women. In recent days, Palestinian women have had paid a high price due to reprisal actions by IOF against Palestinian civilians and property.
The latest form of systematic violence by IOF was the military campaign against Jabaliya town in the northern Gaza Strip, which lasted from 28 February to 4 March 2008. During this military campaign, 110 Palestinians, including 27 children and six women aged 19-60, were killed by IOF. These women were all killed by IOF on the same day, while they were inside their homes. One woman, Ghada ‘Abdullah, 27, was killed on 1 March 2008 while she was in her kitchen preparing breakfast for her children and a missile hit her house. Su’ad Rajab ‘Atallah, 60, and her daughters Ibtissam, 25, and Rajaa’, 30, were all killed when IOF aircrafts fired three missiles at their home. These attacks bring the total number of Palestinian women killed by IOF since the beginning of 2008 to 13.
Furthermore, Palestinian women have been impacted by the policy of collective punishment and the siege imposed by IOF against the Gaza Strip, especially since June 2007. In this context, IOF have escalated measures of economic and social stranglehold against the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip, including women. The Gaza Strip has been transformed into a big jail for its 1.5 million Palestinians, who have been denied their right to freedom of movement and basic daily needs.
Such measures have impacted living conditions of Palestinian women. In particular, sick women, like other patients, have been denied access to medical treatment outside the Gaza Strip. Since June 2007, seven women have died due the denial by IOF of their access to medical treatment outside the Gaza Strip. Additionally, another six women died while being stuck together with other civilians at the Rafah International Crossing Point, which had been closed for at least two months previously.
Moreover, the suffering of Palestinian women has doubled with the violence practiced against them in the society. They have been subjected to various forms of psychological, physical and sexual violence. Additionally, their right to life has been violated through killing for “protection of family honor.” In this context, in 2007, 14 women were killed.
On this occasion, PCHR reiterates its absolute support for Palestinian women in the face of the severe circumstances they face due to the practiced of IOF, and:
- Calls upon the international community to immediately intervene to stop crimes and human rights violations perpetrated by IOF, which leave tragic impacts on the Palestinian people, especially women.
- Calls for lifting the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip as it is a form of collective punishment against the Palestinian civilian population in violations of international law and humanitarian law.
- Calls upon the Palestinian National Authority to stop violence and the misuse of weapons.
- Calls for combined efforts by the society and institutions to ensure serious work against all forms of violence against women.