Women’s organizations demand investigation into “sexual crimes” against Palestinian women
The Arab States Civil Society Organizations and Feminist Network urge UN Women to endorse international initiatives to establish investigation committees concerning sexual crimes against Palestinian women in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
News Center- Arab States Civil Society Organizations and Feminist Network released a written statement regarding sexual crimes committed against Palestinian women in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Expressing their profound concern regarding the recent statement issued by UN Women concerning the situation in Palestine and Israel, Palestinian women and civil society organizations said, “Over the past 50 days, UN Women has consistently supported calls for an integral independent investigation regarding the allegations of gender-based violence (GBV) and sexual abuse on October 7. However, the statement did not address the ongoing refusal of the Israeli occupation to cooperate with various international investigation commissions appointed by the United Nations to probe into the crimes committed against Palestinian women in the past. Consequently, Israel's rejection of initiating an international investigation is a matter that should draw the attention and raise concerns of all institutions and commissions dedicated to achieving justice for the victims and holding the perpetrators accountable.”
No independent, impartial investigation into gender-based violence and sexual violence
Emphasizing the lack of initiation of an independent, impartial investigation into gender-based violence (GBV) and sexual violence, the statement addressed the statement of UN Women saying, “We are alarmed by the numerous accounts of gender-based atrocities and sexual violence during October 7 attacks.”
The written statement by the Arab States Civil Society Organizations and Feminist Network titled, “Protest and Condemnation Memorandum” criticized the statement of UN Women. “By issuing such a statement, which relies on uncertainties and unproven evidence (it appears that political motives may be influencing it), UN Women appears to deviate from its jurisdiction and procedures. The protection of women and girls should remain at the core of its mission.
Moreover, UN Women has not issued any statement expressing concern or alarm regarding the instances of gender-based violence (GBV) and sexual violence committed by Israeli soldiers and settlers against Palestinian women. Numerous cases of such crimes have been officially documented in previous years, including testimonies from Palestinian prisoners released after October 7, reporting instances of GBV and sexual abuse by Israeli guardians. This includes documented cases of sexual verbal abuse by Israeli settlers against Palestinian women. UN Women did not express alarm regarding the sexual violence and physical searches carried out by Israeli soldiers at Shifaat Military Checkpoint (one of the checkpoints isolating Jerusalem from its surroundings) against Palestinian women. In a similar context, Israeli soldiers compelled four Palestinian women to undress at a checkpoint inside the Old City of Hebron. We assert that the application of physical violence against Palestinian women, during arrest, investigation, and the threat of rape by Israeli soldiers, constitutes one of the numerous forms of GBV and sexual abuse requiring condemnation by various international agencies and institutions, with UN Women at the forefront.
UN Women should demonstrate a steadfast commitment
While acknowledging the considerable pressure on UN Women, we firmly believe that it should demonstrate a steadfast commitment to International Law, International Humanitarian Law, and International Criminal Law. Additionally, it should adhere to the principles of the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda, which are founded on the protection of women during armed conflicts and instances of foreign occupation. We emphasize the implementation of the principle of no impunity for perpetrators and the equal treatment of all, without bias.”
“We condemn all forms of gender-based violence”
Condemning all forms of gender-based violence and sexual abuse against women, the statement said, “We urge for conducting an independent and impartial investigation concerning the alleged cases. Furthermore, we denounce the statement from UN Women, which lacks evidence and reproduces the Israeli narrative, seen as one of the tools within the war against Palestinians.”
In the statement, the organizations strongly urge UN WOMEN to schedule a meeting with UN Women, represented by its executive director, to discuss its role in advocating for the rights of women without discrimination; to hear first-hand testimonies from Palestinian women, including released women prisoners and other women who have experienced sexual harassment and abuse at the hands of Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank; to actively endorse international initiatives to establish investigation committees concerning sexual crimes and acts of genocide perpetrated by the Israeli occupation in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Additionally, it should advocate for expediting the investigation process of these crimes, through the International Criminal Court.