International Community Must Improve Protection for Women in Palestine, Palestinian Government Must Protect and Promote Women’s Rights in Palestinian Society

International Women's Day of 8 March 2016 is marked amidst a continued deterioration in the situation of human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), in particular in the Gaza Strip, as Palestinian women continue to suffer from killing, maiming and oppression by the Israeli occupation forces (IOF). The Israeli authorities deprive Palestinian women of their rights to freedom of movement and travel, and to obtain appropriate medical treatment by accessing necessary healthcare providers outside of the Gaza Strip. The violations are systematic and encompass infringements on political, civil, economic, social and cultural rights.

Palestinian women are subjected to persecution in addition to bearing the brunt of harsh circumstances and severe economic, social, and political conditions. Palestinian women are confronted with poverty and unemployment, and are subjected to arrest and killing in direct and targeted attacks. They continue to suffer from social oppression and gender-based violence.

According to available data, since October 2015 the IOF has killed 186 Palestinians in the oPt, including eight women and 43 children, seven of whom were girls. All were killed in the context of suppressing the demonstrations taking place in solidarity with the Palestinian population under attack in the West Bank, including Jerusalem in the context of the ongoing uprising. According to the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees’ Affairs, the IOF arrested 118 women during the same period. Meanwhile 57 Palestinian women are being held in Israeli prisons, including 13 girls. Nine of them are detained despite suffering injuries. Moreover, the Palestinian Legislative Council member Khalida Jarrar is imprisoned, and Lena Al-Jarbouni has been held for over 14 years.

According to the monitoring conducted by Al Mezan, the IOF killed 316 women and wounded 1,498 in the Gaza Strip since 2012. A total of 26,733 women lost their homes due to the Israeli-wrought destruction and 2,775 of the homes that were demolished by IOF were owned by Palestinian women. In addition, around 929 women in the Gaza Strip lost their husbands, by Israeli attacks, during the same period.

According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, 2,168 women were injured and about 600 women had miscarriage during the 2014 Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, codenamed “Operation Protective Edge”. Palestinian women are also victimized by the serious deterioration of the socioeconomic conditions as well as displacement. They have to put up with the absence of the rule of law on a daily basis; including in a professional environment where the basic principles of the right to work are not fulfilled; salary scales are unequal based on gender; and working hours do not match the national and international standards.

Varying social views on the role of women in society have further compounded these issues.

A more extreme perspective in society goes so far as to view a woman's role as solely reproductive, a perspective that violates women's right to live in dignity and equality. Palestinian women are directly targeted in family disputes, most notably in so-called honor related crimes. According to Al Mezan’s data, seven women have been killed since 2012 in so-called family-honor related crimes and 85 were wounded in incidents pertaining to the absence of the rule of law in the Gaza Strip, such as family feuds.

On this important Day, Al Mezan recognizes women around the world. Al Mezan pays tribute to Palestinian women for the role they play in the struggle for freedom and independence, and in the struggle to realize women's rights.

Al Mezan reiterates its support for the struggle of women and the continued demands for equality. Al Mezan will continue its efforts to combat all forms of discrimination against women, especially on issues relating to the right to work, education, and enjoyment of public freedoms, and to support women's rights activism through capacity building.

Al Mezan calls upon the international community to provide protection for Palestinian women from discrimination and violence by the IOF as a result of the closure/blockade imposed of the Gaza Strip and denial of access to land and vital services in the West Bank.

Al Mezan also calls on the Palestinian government to ensure full respect and protection for women's rights, and on the political parties and civil society organizations to support the movement for women's rights and to ensure the efforts are firmly grounded in female leadership.

Al Mezan calls on the Palestinian government to initiate appropriate national plans to ensure integration of women in the job market, especially after the State of Palestine acceded to various human rights conventions including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.