ICJP joins UN experts in condemnation of Israel’s Violation of Palestinian Women and Girls’ Human Rights

London, 20th February 2024: The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) is appalled and deeply distressed by accounts of human rights violations against Palestinian women and girls in Gaza and the West Bank as reported by a number of UN experts.

In the statement, the UN experts revealed that they have received credible allegations of ‘egregious’ rights violations, including the deliberate targeting and extrajudicial killings of women and children.

Most notably, grave concern has been expressed regarding 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 7thOctober 2023. The hundreds of women and girls held in arbitrary detention – a figure that has increased manifold since October – are reportedly subject to inhumane and degrading treatment, denied menstruation pads, food, and medicine, and subjected to severe beatings. At least two Palestinian women were reportedly raped while others were threatened with rape and sexual violence.

This widespread and gendered violence against women and girls  arises within a context of Israel’s genocidal campaign in Gaza and its ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. In Israel’s assault on Gaza, at least 29,092 Palestinians have now been killed, women and children comprising 70% of that figure. The widespread attacks on healthcare facilities, including the Nasser hospital in the last week, which was the largest hospital still functioning in Gaza, have left two-thirds of Gaza’s hospitals not-functioning, with the rest only partially or minimally functioning. Amidst this healthcare collapse, 180 women continue to give birth daily, and reports have been made of C-sections administered without anaesthetic in unsanitary conditions amidst shortages of water and sterilisation.

Beyond the deliberate, mortal and systematic abuses practiced by the Israeli occupying forces, the wider humanitarian concerns generated – the restriction on the delivery of medicines, food, and other essentials, and displacement of the Palestinian population of Gaza – all carry with them specific gendered impacts. One month ago, UN Women warned that women and girls are expected to be hit hardest by the imminent risk of famine in Gaza, while pregnant and lactating women and their children are at even higher health and malnutrition risks.

The blocking of aid and restriction of resources has led to a lack of access to water, sanitation, and hygiene facilities, and a lack of sanitary products. Women are left either without the hygiene essentials they require, or reportedly being forced to use clothing and tent cut-offs as makeshift sanitary supplies. This affects not only women and girl’s mental and physical health, but also their dignity, says UN Women.

Kemi Badenoch MP, Government Minister for Women and Equalities, has been silent on these credible allegations, and, alarmingly, this is a post held by the same Minister responsible for the decision taken to continue arms sales to Israel. In her role as Secretary of State for Business and Trade, Badenoch concluded on 18th December 2023 that no arms export licenses for Israel ought to be suspended or revoked. This comes despite 2021 updates to the arms export regime’s Single Export Licensing Criteria (SELC) mandating an enhanced focus on the consideration of violence against women and children as a prohibitive factor to consider when examining existing licenses or granting new ones.

ICJP Legal Officer Dania Abul Haj has stated:

“Yesterday’s statement by UN experts underscores what we have already seen so clearly from Israel’s conduct in Gaza: its blatant disregard not just for human rights generally, but particularly for the wellbeing of the civilian population in Gaza, which disproportionately consists of women and children.

We have seen the UK government and others in the West persevere in their support for Israel’s military actions, when it should instead be focusing on using all legal means available to uphold the rights and dignity of the population at risk of urgent and irreparable prejudice.

ICJP calls on the UK government to demand an immediate ceasefire, to suspend arms sales to Israel, and to support the UN experts’ calls for an independent, impartial, prompt, thorough and effective investigation into these credible allegations of Israel’s violations of Palestinian women’s human rights and protections under international humanitarian law.”


Notes to Editors:

  1. The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians is an independent organisation of lawyers, politicians and academics who support the rights of Palestinians and aim to protect their rights through the law. 
  2. United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, 19th February 2024, Israel/oPt: UN experts appalled by reported human rights violations against Palestinian women and girls
  3. UN Women’s Gender Alert: The Gendered Impact of the Crisis in Gaza, January 2024, outlines the specific, gendered threats to the lives and wellbeing of women and girls in Gaza, including the denial of hygiene needs and the disproportionate rate of death among Gaza’s women and children.
  4. World Health Organisation, 24th January 2024, WHO and partners bring fuel to Al-Shifa, as remaining hospitals in Gaza face growing threats
  5. Reuters/The Guardian, 19th February 2024, Gaza’s largest functioning hospital ‘completely out of service’, say health officials
  6. For more information, to arrange an interview with a spokesperson, please contact the ICJP news desk at [email protected].