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Outrage Follows the U.N. Report Exposing Israeli Transgressions in Gaza

Ouissal Harize Ouissal Harize
News
21st February 2024
Outrage Follows the U.N. Report Exposing Israeli Transgressions in Gaza
At least two female Palestinian detainees were raped, according to UN (Getty)

Israel’s unscrupulous war on Gaza is peeling yet another layer off the face of the Israeli army as a new report by the U.N. unwaveringly reveals the IOF’s transgressions against Palestinian women and girls in Gaza. The report caused a wave of outrage online. 

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Despite the overwhelming testimonies that prove it, Israel has dismissed the United Nations' accusations of committing war crimes against Palestinian women and girls as "despicable and unfounded." 

Soon after its release, Israel hastily released a report alleging that Hamas has been guilty of sexual violence on October 7.

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Internet users have undermined Israel’s report, which they thought was a mere attempt of submerging the U.N. report.

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Detainment and Ill-treatment

The arbitrary detention of numerous Palestinian women and girls, including those active in human rights, journalism, and humanitarian efforts, has raised global concerns. Testimonies of inhumane treatment, deprivation of basic needs, and physical assault within detention facilities paint a harrowing picture of Gazans’ plight.

According to the report: “The experts expressed serious concern about the arbitrary detention of hundreds of Palestinian women and girls, including human rights defenders, journalists and humanitarian workers, in Gaza and the West Bank since 7 October. Many have reportedly been subjected to inhuman and degrading treatment, denied menstruation pads, food and medicine, and severely beaten. On at least one occasion, Palestinian women detained in Gaza were allegedly kept in a cage in the rain and cold, without food.”

Disturbing Accounts of Sexual Violence

Amidst several violations, reports of sexual assault suggest that rape is weaponized by soldiers who have turned women’s bodies into proxies for war.

The U.N. experts reported: “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.” It was also noted that photos of female detainees in undignified circumstances were taken by the Israeli army and uploaded online.

According to an article by The New Arab, Israeli soldiers have shown a nonchalant attitude because of the lack of accountability. Since the onset of the war on Gaza, Israeli soldiers have been posting videos on TikTok that depict acts constituting war crimes, including the destruction of buildings, looting of homes, and other actions that devalue Palestinian lives and mock their death. 

These videos are influenced by rhetoric that labels all Gazans as targets. The actions captured in these videos, such as bombing civilian structures and appropriating private property, are identified as war crimes under international law, notably the Geneva Convention.

The widespread sharing of these videos not only highlights the impunity enjoyed by the soldiers but also raises questions about the role of social media platforms in allowing such content. A deeply disturbing example was the viral image of Israeli soldiers showcasing a babydoll they found in a destroyed house in Gaza. The image highlights the unnatural over fetishization of the victims by Israeli soldiers.

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Disappearance and Displacement During the Gaza War

The narrative of abuse extends to the unsettling reports of missing and displaced Palestinian women and children. Enforced disappearance has been weaponized by Israel for decades now.

The human rights organization Amnesty International defines victims of enforced disappearance as “people who have been taken into custody by agents of the state, yet whose whereabouts and fate are concealed, and whose custody is denied.” The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons against Enforced Disappearance legally defines disappearance as: “The arrest, detention, abduction or any other form of deprivation of liberty by agents of the state or by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State, followed by a refusal to acknowledge the deprivation of liberty or by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person, which place such a person outside the protection of the law.” According to these definitions, Israel is in breach of international law.

The U.N. experts shared their concern that an unknown number of Palestinian women and children, including girls, have 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.  

Women and Children Are the Main Victims of Israel’s War on Gaza

The Israeli war on Gaza has disproportionately impacted women and children, with U.N. reporting approximately 16,000 fatalities in this demographic since the conflict began. The prolonged hostilities, spanning over 100 days, have resulted in significant displacement, with 1.9 million of the territory's 2.3 million residents displaced, nearly half of whom are women and girls. The current war has not only led to loss of life but also left thousands of women as widows and heads of households, alongside children orphaned.

U.N. Women's executive director, Sima Bahous, emphasized the critical need for unrestricted humanitarian aid and an immediate ceasefire to halt further destruction and loss of life. The agency highlighted the ongoing efforts of women-led organizations in Gaza, which continue to provide emergency responses despite the dire circumstances. However, funding remains a critical issue, with a mere 0.09% of aid from the previous year's flash appeal for Gaza reaching local women's rights groups. Bahous echoed calls for peace and justice, particularly for women and girls who bear the brunt of a war not of their making.

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