Suffering of Gazan women increases with Israeli siege

(Rami Swidan/MaanImages)

25 November, women worldwide celebrate the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, that had been officially adopted by the UN in 1999, as part of the effort exerted to eliminate violence against women, and to urge countries to take actions necessary to ensure women’s enjoyment of necessary protection.

This year, on the International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women, the suffering of the Palestinian women continues due to the violence of the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) and internal Palestinian violence.

PCHR’s documentation during 2008 indicates that 19 Palestinian women in the Gaza Strip were killed by Israeli violence, including shelling; shootings and incursions. This number includes women who were killed in their homes and many cases that show Israeli disregard of the civilian life. Dozens of Palestinian women passed through vary harsh conditions as they witnessed the violent killing of their children by disproportionate IOF lethal force that did not distinguish between civilian and non-civilian targets.

Also in the course of 2008, the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip by IOF led to the death of 13 women. These victims were denied their right to travel for advanced medical treatment outside Gaza that lacks adequate health services and suffers from shortages of medicine and equipment. Thus, the total number of women killed by Israeli practices and siege on the Gaza strip totaled 32 women during 2008.

In the West Bank, Palestinian women were subjected to humiliating and demeaning actions that IOF continue to practice against the Palestinian civilians on checkpoints positioned at the entrances of the Palestinian towns and villages. In addition, Palestinian women in the West Bank are still suffering due to continued IOF raids into Palestinian houses and land confiscations and other actions.

IOF are still imprisoning approximately 97 Palestinian women, who are subject to forms of humiliating treatment applied by Israeli prisons administrations. These practices include maltreatment, torture, degrading treatment and bad living conditions inside the prisons.

In relation to the Palestinian internal situation, the Palestinian women are still vulnerable to and victims of internal violence in different contexts. During 2008, PCHR documented the killing of six Palestinian women, four in the Gaza Strip and two in the West Bank, as a result of security chaos and misuse of weapons. PCHR also documented the “honor killings” of three Palestinian women, two in the Gaza Strip and one in the West Bank.

Although there is a notable decline in the number of women who were killed in security chaos, misuse of weapons incidents, and “honor killings,” during 2008 in comparison with the last year*, there is a pressing need to exert further efforts and take more actions to confront internal violence and its repercussions, putting more focus on “honor killings” that still require serious efforts to ensure bringing perpetrators to justice and not tolerating this type of crime.

During 2008, the siege imposed on the Gaza strip by IOF formed one of the most significant factors of the suffering of the Palestinian women in the Gaza Strip. The IOF siege directly affected the lives and living conditions of Gaza women, and left negative repercussions on them, represented in the direct violation of their rights, including the right to life, right to health, right to adequate standard of living, right to education, and other rights.

Furthermore, the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip by IOF adversely affects Gazan women, especially since the beginning of November 2008 when IOF escalated closure procedures and imposed further restrictions on the free flow of civilians’ basic needs of food and medicines. As a result, Gaza women are more at risk of diseases and are denied access to basic needs, including power and drinking water.

Palestinian women are constantly suffering from deteriorating living conditions. Burdens on them are increasing due to charging them with the management of their homes and provision of foodstuffs, and due to their obligation to confront the repercussions of the IOF violation of their economic, social and cultural rights. These IOF violations created a chronic humanitarian crisis due to the escalation of poverty and unemployment rates caused by the Israeli policies imposed on the Gaza Strip.

In view of the deterioration of the conditions of the Palestinian Women, denial of their rights and continued systemic violence against them, PCHR reiterates the importance of the role that is supposed to be played by the international community to ensure putting an end to the cruel conditions of the Palestinian women, and:

  • Calls upon the international community and concerned institutions to urge Israel to put an end to its violation of the Palestinian civilians’ rights, including the policy of siege imposed on the Gaza Strip as a collective punishment that denies the enjoyment of the Palestinian civilians, including women, of their rights guaranteed under the International Humanitarian Law and the International Human Rights Law.
  • Calls upon the Palestinian Authority to take necessary measurements and actions to put an end to the internal violence, security chaos, misuse of weapons and honor crimes.
  • *During the last year, PCHR documented the killing of 50 Palestinian women, including 14 women who were killed in honor crimes and other 34 women who were killed in security chaos and misuse of weapons conditions and internal fighting.

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