Palestinian women face rape, assault, execution by Israeli soldiers

Palestinian women face rape, assault, execution by Israeli soldiers

Israeli forces have been committing the crimes of rape, strip searches, arbitrary detention, and arbitrary executions against Palestinian women and girls in the West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip, the United Nations reported on February 19.


“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,” UN experts said in the report. 


Women in Gaza have been deprived of menstrual pads, food and medicine, besides being severely beaten and inhumanly treated, the experts said. For example, a Palestinian woman was forced to be kept in a cage in rain and cold weather without food.


At least two Palestinian women have reportedly been raped by Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip, while others have been threatened with rape or sexually assault.


“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,” said experts, who include Reem Alsalem, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, and Francesca Albanese, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967.


In addition, Israeli forces took “degrading” photos of female Palestinian detainees and published them online, the experts continued.


The UN experts also voiced their concerns about the unknown fate of missing infants and girls taken by Israeli soldiers from the Gaza Strip.


Israeli Army Radio reported on January 1 that Harel Itah, an Israeli officer and head of the Givati Brigade of the Israeli Army, had kidnapped a Palestinian female infant to an unknown place before he was killed in battle on December 22, 2023, according to the Euro-Mediterranean Monitor.


In another statement on December 26, 2023, the Monitor said that it had received information about hundreds of Palestinians arrested by Israeli soldiers from the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza, including dozens of women who were taken to Yarmouk Stadium. It added that Israeli forces had removed women’s veils from their heads, noting that female detainees were searched by soldiers, and many were subjected to harassment, beatings and abuse.


A total of 39 human rights and women's rights organizations from the Palestinian and Arab world filed a letter of protest to the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women) regarding sexual violence committed by Israeli guards against Palestinian female political prisoners, who were released after October 7, and also regarding the practice of verbal sexual violence by settlers against Palestinian women.