Friday, 25 November 2016, marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, a day designated by the UN General Assembly on 17 January 1999. Governments, international organizations, and NGOs are encouraged to organize activities to raise public awareness of the issues of violence against women around the world.
This year, the internationally-recognized day is marked in Palestine amidst continued practices and policies by Israel, the Occupying Power, that violate the rights of and harm Palestinian women. The killing and maiming of women, of husbands and other family members, and of breadwinners; home demolitions; and the restrictions imposed by the occupation regime, including the stifling closure/blockade, are only some examples of the serious violations that hinder Palestinian women in accessing their basic human rights. According to the monitoring and documentation conducted by Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (Al Mezan), from the beginning of 2015 until publication, the Israeli forces killed two women, injured 12, and arrested five women, in the Gaza Strip. In addition, the Israeli forces prevented 44 women from traveling via Erez crossing to receive urgent medical treatment at hospitals in the West Bank and Israel.
The Palestinian female population of the Gaza Strip continue to endure the impacts of the latest Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, carried out in the summer of 2014, whereby Al Mezan documented the Israeli forces’ full or partial destruction of over 30,000 housing units. More than two years later, tens of thousands of Gaza residents remain homeless or displaced due to the closure/blockade stifling reconstruction efforts. Palestinian women are disproportionately affected by these circumstances as they play a pivotal role in caring for the family.
The nearly-ten year Israeli-imposed closure/blockade on the Gaza Strip, which amounts to a prohibited collective punishment and the persecution of the population of Gaza, has created a humanitarian catastrophe that affects all two-million residents. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate among women for 2015 rested at 59%. The health and educational services, as well as living standards, decreased across the board. Around 50% of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip live below the poverty line and 30% are categorized as living in severe poverty, with direct impacts the female population.
Domestic violence that targets women is also ongoing within Palestinian society, often increasing simultaneous to surges in poverty and hardship from life under closure and occupation. Women are also often deprived of their rights to inherit and in many cases are restricted in expressing opinion. Palestinian women are also the targets in family disputes, notably in so-called “honor” related crimes.
Al Mezan calls on the international community to uphold its legal and moral obligations to ensure that Palestinian women enjoy their human rights. Israel, a signatory to the International Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and a High Contracting Party to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, must, as the Occupying Power in the oPt, end its practices and policies that lead to perpetual violence against Palestinian women. Al Mezan calls on the Palestinian authorities to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law and international human rights law, including CEDAW, and to bring perpetrators of “honor killings” to justice.
 According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the occupied Palestinian territory, 75,000 Palestinians, including an estimated 44,000 children remain displaced (as of April 2016). See, http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/idps_report_april_2016_english.pdf
 Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, see: http://www.pcbs.gov.ps/site/lang__en/881/default.aspx#