Geneva - The recent statement by United Nations experts on Israel’s flagrant human rights violations of Palestinian women and girls in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank was welcomed by Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor. The rights group emphasised the significance of the statement given the Israeli genocide against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, ongoing since 7 October 2023.

The UN experts' statement should be adopted as an additional document to hold Israel responsible for its violations against Palestinian civilians, stressed Euro-Med Monitor. This is especially important as the International Court of Justice is deliberating over South Africa’s lawsuit, which accuses Israel of committing genocide in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian women and girls have reportedly been arbitrarily executed in Gaza, according to the UN experts’ statement. Women are often executed together with family members, including their children: “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,” the statement reads.

“Some of them were reportedly holding white pieces of cloth when they were killed by the Israeli army or affiliated forces,” the experts add.

The experts also express serious concern about the arbitrary detention of hundreds of Palestinian women and girls specifically, including human rights defenders, journalists and humanitarian workers, in both the Strip 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.

“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,” continues the UN experts’ statement. 

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

The experts express further concern that an unknown number of Palestinian women and children, 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.”

The experts “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.” They call for an independent, impartial, prompt, thorough and effective investigation into the allegations and for Israel to cooperate with such investigations.

“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 conclude. 

In a primary report submitted recently to the United Nations High Commissioner and UN special rapporteurs, including the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women and Girls, Euro-Med Monitor has documented dozens of cases of field executions of Palestinian girls and women carried out by the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip

Euro-Med Monitor has similarly documented, in a separate report submitted to UN special rapporteurs and the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), dozens of cases of field executions carried out by the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip against men, women, and children. The human rights group requested an immediate investigation into these crimes, calling for the perpetrators to be held accountable, and for justice for all victims.

The rights organisation called on the aforementioned parties to take a firm position on the widespread killing operations carried out by Israeli forces targeting Palestinian civilians, especially given the field executions and physical liquidations in the Gaza Strip. Euro-Med Monitor also demanded the establishment of an international legal team, the application of pressure to secure this team’s entry into the Gaza Strip, and the start of an inquiry into these and other instances of Palestinian civilians being killed by Israeli forces.

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor once again urged the international community to pressure Israel to end its policy of forced disappearance, which affects nearly thousands of Palestinian detainees from the Gaza Strip, including women and children, and to disclose the whereabouts of the dozens of women it has detained from refugee centres and from their own homes.