Saturday 24 February 2024 - 21:18

Shocking Reports of Sexual Assault against Palestinian Women in the Gaza War

Story Code : 1118399
Shocking Reports of Sexual Assault against Palestinian Women in the Gaza War
Nearly 140 days have elapsed since the incursion of the Zionist regime into Gaza. Amid international efforts to cease the conflict, Gaza's civilian populace has been subjected to a range of heinous crimes.

Recent reports from United Nations experts have unearthed "credible and substantiated" evidence pointing to instances of sexual assault against Palestinian women and girls within Israeli prisons. They have urged comprehensive investigations to illuminate the full extent of these atrocities.

As reported by The Guardian, a UN investigative committee disclosed evidence of no less than two incidents of sexual assault, along with other forms of violence, sexual degradation, and threats of assault.

Reem Alsalem, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women and Girls, expressed concern that the actual incidence of sexual violence could be significantly higher. She remarked, "It may be some time before we ascertain the true number of victims."

Highlighting the prevalent underreporting of sexual assault cases due to fear of retaliation, she observed, "In general, violence and the dehumanizing treatment of Palestinian women, children, and civilians have become commonplace in times of war."

In their report presented last Monday, UN experts emphasized their apprehension regarding reports of Palestinian women and girls in detention being subjected to various forms of sexual assault, including strip searches and body inspections by Israeli military personnel.

Moreover, as the death toll approaches 30,000 in Gaza, experts have highlighted in reports that women and girls have faced "self-executions, often with their family members, including children," and "arbitrary detention of hundreds, including human rights defenders, journalists, and humanitarian workers." Additionally, numerous women have endured "inhumane and humiliating treatment, severe beatings, and lack of essential hygiene supplies during menstruation, food, and medicine."

In a collective statement, they expressed profound shock at the reports of intentional targeting and unlawful slaughter of Palestinian women and children in areas where they sought refuge or were attempting to flee. According to accounts, some were carrying pieces of white cloth (indicating surrender) and were fatally shot by Israeli army gunfire.

One of these reporters, speaking to France 24 TV about the most shocking testimony received from Palestinian girls and women, said, "Based on reports we have received, Palestinian women and girls in Gaza were executed individually or collectively with their families and sometimes with their children. These events took place in December 2023 and January 2024."

The report also refers to the widespread presence of women in illegal and arbitrary detentions on the West Bank and Gaza coast. According to this report, detained women on the West Bank and Gaza have been taken from their homes to the streets in nightclothes and classified as Hamas-affiliated combatants without providing any evidence.

Hamas's viewpoint

The Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas, in turn, has called on the United Nations to initiate international investigations. In a statement responding to the United Nations report, they said that what has happened confirms further evidence of crimes, genocide, and ethnic cleansing committed by the occupiers. Netanyahu is a war criminal and his army is a Nazi army against our people.

The movement, by stating the various forms of violations committed by the occupying army against Palestinian women, such as executions, arbitrary arrests, severe beatings, and deprivation of food and medicine during detention, in addition to threats of assault and humiliation during investigations, called for the initiation of international investigations into this defiant regime and holding its leaders accountable for their heinous crimes.

It is worth mentioning that the recent report is not the only and first reports of the possible organized crime against Palestinian women during the recent war, as the Al Odeh Center had previously addressed numerous cases of sexual assault and violence by the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip in December 2023. The center had referred to the long history of the occupying army and its security personnel in committing sexual assaults, especially against Palestinian women and children, which often go unpunished.

Many Palestinian women and girls opt not to lodge complaints about these issues due to concerns for their dignity and their family's honor. However, in 2017, a Palestinian woman from the West Bank came forward with revelations about widespread infringements of women's rights in Israeli detention centers.

After this woman's disturbing disclosures regarding torture and sexual abuse by Zionist soldiers in detention, "Amir Oren, a prominent Israeli journalist with Haaretz newspaper, released a report on April 3, 2016, citing military prosecutor archives of the Israeli army. It exposed war crimes such as assassination, killing, and assault against Palestinian prisoners, all of which Israeli authorities had failed to address." The case of this Palestinian woman was just one among many similar incidents.

These documents compellingly illustrated the systematic occurrence of sexual assault and mistreatment against women, especially Palestinian women. The Chief Rabbi of the Israeli army had even condoned the torture and violation of Palestinian women, with "Eyal Karim," the Chief Rabbi of the Israeli army, approving sexual assault against Palestinian women and non-Jewish women by Israeli soldiers during wartime.

The pursuit of sexual assault against Palestinian women in international courts

The recent findings by UN rapporteurs present a significant opportunity and compelling evidence to initiate broader and more meticulous international inquiries into the atrocities committed by the Zionist regime during the Gaza conflict.

In recent weeks, following South Africa's complaint to The Hague's International Criminal Court regarding genocide in Gaza, the Zionist government faced condemnation from the court. This development has prompted other nations to consider filing grievances against Israel for its actions in Gaza and the West Bank during the recent conflict.

Article 7 of the International Criminal Court's Statute explicitly defines sexual violence as crimes against humanity, encompassing acts such as sexual assault, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, and any other form of sexual violence.

Furthermore, the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) and its additional protocols have repeatedly emphasized the condemnation of violent acts against women. Article 27 of this international accord, in particular, advocates for the protection of women's dignity, denouncing acts like rape, coercion into indecency, and any violation of chastity.

On the international stage, concerted efforts have been made to bolster support for women's rights during times of war. Both the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, issued by the World Conference on Human Rights in June 1993, and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, issued by the Fourth World Conference on Women in September 1995, stress the imperative of combating sexual violence and the humiliation of women.

Despite brazenly disregarding international verdicts, including the recent ruling from The Hague, with the backing of the US and other Western nations, and shamelessly preparing for further assaults on civilians in Rafah, intensifying probes into violations of international laws of war and war crimes will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in dismantling the regime's media narrative, escalating the political consequences for supporting nations, and holding Tel Aviv leaders responsible for their deeds.