Palestinian women, girls are subjected to inhumane treatment: UN rapporteur

Thu, 29 Feb 2024 7:45 GMT
Alarmed by reports of women having been stripped naked, photographed in really degrading situations, says Reem Alsalem.
Palestinian women, girls are subjected to inhumane treatment: UN rapporteur

A UN special rapporteur has expressed deep concern over the inhumane and degrading treatment meted out to Palestinian women and girls.

Speaking to Anadolu, Reem Alsalem described the situation on the ground in Gaza as "hell."

“We know that 30,000 estimated Palestinians have been killed, 70% of them are women and children. It's really unacceptable that this situation of an unfolding genocide is allowed to continue.

Palestinian women and children have been subjected to these egregious crimes against humanity and war crimes. Because they are Palestinian but because they are women also,” he said.

“We know of thousands of women that have been widowed. Two mothers are killed every hour. Countless children are orphaned, so they have become motherless and fatherless,” he further said.

“Women that are menstruating are unable to get basic things like sanitary pads in total disregard for their dignity and specific needs as females.

"Pregnant women have to conclude their pregnancy in the midst of bombardment and lack of health care. Also, women that have to deliver despite a decimated health sector with no access to anesthesia or minimal care,” the UN official said.

Executions and detentions

He recalled last week's report addressing the suffering of Palestinian women and children as well as Palestinian civilians.

“Hate speech targeting them by Israeli officials and other members of Israeli society have dehumanized them and incited hatred against them with a view to justifying their killing,” he added.

“We have received credible reports of Palestinian women being extrajudicially and summarily executed together with children and other family members. Also, of the arbitrary detention, disappearance and transfer of Palestinian women to places of detention in either the West Bank or Israel. That has included doctors, nurses, human rights defenders, also the possible forced transfer of children to Israel,” Alsalem said.

He said they were aware of one incident where an infant was transferred to Israel.

“An undetermined number (of children) appears to also have disappeared as women and men were asked to leave them and walk away by the Israeli occupation forces. We mentioned that in January 2024. We were aware of an infant that has been transferred into Israel, which as you know, is a war crime but also is possibly an act that can qualify as an act of genocide under the Genocide Convention,”

Alsalem stated that out of 3,000 Palestinians detained in Gaza between Oct. 7 and Dec. 31, 2023, approximately 200 are estimated to be women and girls, while 147 of the 3,700 Palestinians detained in the West Bank are women and 245 are children.

"We did express grave concern for the inhumane and degrading treatment that these Palestinian women and girls had received, whether it was beatings, extortions, denial of medical assistance, denial of menstruation pads, again, denial of the ability to meet their lawyers or family members not getting enough food and clothes,” he added.

Sexual assault and rape

“Also sexual assault, the threat of rape and in the case of at least two women rape itself. So we were very alarmed by the reports we received that appear to be credible of women having been stripped naked, in particular during interrogation having been photographed in really degrading situations.

"Having been bodily searched by male officers having had their veils taken off when they were detained in Gaza. Also, photographed and these photographs have been exchanged between the IDF, but also shared online.

"So these obviously are violations of the laws of war and constitute behavior that amounts to degrading ill-treatment and possibly torture.”

Saying that obviously, we are aware of the allegations also of sexual violence committed by Hamas on Oct. 7 and 8, he added: “Like the situation with Palestinian women and girls. We have called for an independent impartial investigation of all allegations against any man, woman, or child irrespective of who they are.”

Expressing that anyone who is a perpetrator of violence should be held accountable, he said: “We cannot normalize such atrocious levels of violence against civilians, against women and children in warfare as it sets a dangerous precedent."

Underlining that such egregious crimes cannot go without being unpunished, he said: “They must immediately stop, we must usher in a cease-fire and humanitarian aid must be allowed immediately. The Israeli hostages must be released and so must the Palestinians arbitrarily detained and released as well. The fate of those missing must be clarified and those that have been forcefully transferred must be returned.”

Alsalem said he could not give too many details about what kind of contact they had with the victims. “There are concerns about the safety of some of the victims that we may have received information from or organizations working with them.”

He said not only the future of Palestine and Israel but also of the region overall is absolutely bleak unless the underlying causes of this war are resolved.


Related News

Address: Miaouli 7-9, Xanthi 67100, GREECE.
Tel: +30 25410 77968.