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Gaza women, girls being strip searched, raped by male Israel soldiers, UN warns

February 20, 2024 at 9:11 am

Relatives of the injured and dead are crying and mourning as Injured Palestinians, including women, children and babies, receive medical treatment after being taken to Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital following an Israeli attack on An-Nasirat Refugee Camp on February 17, 2024 [Ashraf Amra/Anadolu Agency]

Palestinian women and girls held in Israeli detention are “being stripped naked and searched by male Israeli army officers”, raped and “allegedly kept in a cage in the rain and cold, without food,” UN experts warned yesterday.

Raising the alarm, the members of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, said: “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.”

Many Palestinian women and girls in Gaza have reportedly been subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, denied menstruation pads, food and medicine and severely beaten, they added.

“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. At least two female Palestinian detainees were reportedly raped while others were reportedly threatened with rape and sexual violence,” the experts said. They also noted that photos of female detainees in degrading circumstances were also reportedly taken by the Israeli army and uploaded online.

They also expressed concern that “an unknown number of Palestinian women and children, including girls, have reportedly gone missing after contact with the Israeli army in Gaza.” “There are disturbing reports of at least one female infant forcibly transferred by the Israeli army into Israel, and of children being separated from their parents, whose whereabouts remain unknown,” they said.

“We remind the Government of Israel of its obligation to uphold the right to life, safety, health, and dignity of Palestinian women and girls and to ensure that no one is subjected to violence, torture, ill-treatment or degrading treatment, including sexual violence,” the experts said.

“Taken together, these alleged acts may constitute grave violations of international human rights and humanitarian law, and amount to serious crimes under international criminal law that could be prosecuted under the Rome Statute,” the experts said.

The experts include Reem Alsalem, special rapporteur on violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences; Francesca Albanese, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967; Dorothy Estrada Tanck, Claudia Flores, Ivana Krstić, Haina Lu and Laura Nyirinkindi, of the working group on discrimination against women and girls.

READ: UN experts ‘appalled’ by reported rights violations against Palestinian women, girls