25 November marks the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, which represents an occasion to raise awareness of the need to eliminate violence against women globally and to encourage governments and other institutions to take concrete action to achieve this goal. This occasion comes at a time of continued suffering in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), especially for Palestinian women, who are subject to an array of violations and abuses both by the Israeli occupation regime and within the Palestinian community.
Israel’s violent actions against women in the OPT continue to escalate—including unlawful killings, property destruction, and forcible transfers. In the context of Israel’s 15-year settler-colonial closure of the Gaza Strip, Palestinian women are among those who bear the highest burden. Al Mezan’s documentation shows that between 25 November 2021 and 25 November 2022, Israeli forces killed three Palestinian women in Gaza, and injured 35 others. During the same period, they have also partially and/or completely destroyed 199 residential units, 20 of which belonged to women, forcefully displacing 288 women living therein.
In the same context, Israel’s discriminatory permit policy obstructs the access of women in Gaza to urgent medical treatment in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, or abroad. Between 25 November 2021 and 25 November 2022. Al Mezan received 221 complaints from women who were denied access to medical treatment outside Gaza by Israeli authorities. It is also imperative to remember that as part of its colonial closure policies, Israel applies severe restrictions on the freedom of movement of both people and goods, effectively targeting economic sectors and causing a steady increase in poverty and unemployment rates. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics reported that in 2021 the unemployment rate among women in Gaza stood at 65 percent, while only 9 percent of households were headed by women.
In addition to the aforementioned violations, Palestinian women also suffer the consequences of the internal Palestinian political division and its repercussions, particularly with regard to violations of the rule of law in Gaza. This has had a negative impact on women's basic rights: according to our data, between 25 November 2021 and 25 November 2022, three women were killed, and 42 others were injured during various incidents of sexual and gender-based violence in the Gaza Strip.
In marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Al Mezan reiterates its calls for the international community to protect women in the OPT and uphold its legal and moral obligations to put an end to systematic violations committed by the Israeli forces against women. It must also end Israel’s impunity and ongoing closure of the Gaza Strip and prosecute all those suspected of committing gross and systematic violations of international law in the OPT.
Al Mezan further urges Palestinian authorities to fulfill their obligations under international human rights law, including those enshrined in the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Accordingly, Palestinian authorities must review all relevant policies and laws aimed at protecting women; enhancing and safeguarding women’s rights, including economic and social rights; and supporting projects and institutions that empower women.