The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Monday was presented with a report citing rampant violence and abuse targeting women in the Palestinian Authority and reacted decisively by…condemning Israel.
At the 35th session of the Human Rights Council, Ms. Dubravka Šimonović, Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women, presented her findings from a visit to Israel in September, when she also toured areas under control of the Palestinian Authority. Her report to the UNHRC focused on the “gendered impact of the occupation”. She cites a , “clear link between prolonged occupation and gender based violence”, blaming the blame for violence against Palestinian women by Palestinian men entirely on Israel.
The plight of Palestinian women is indeed dire. One third of married Palestinian women in Judea and Samaria and over half in Gaza have been subjected to domestic violence.
The Rapporteur made specific mention of the IDF at checkpoints as a source of abuse against Palestinian women requiring UN intervention. In fact, 3.3 percent of married women report being exposed to psychological violence at barriers and inspection points from soldiers, while 0.6 percent report exposure to physical violence, and 0.2 percent report sexual harassment.
The extreme plight of Palestinian women makes the obfuscation by the UNHRC even more egregious. While calling for an end to the “Israeli occupation”, the Rapporteur decried the rise in femicides, while failing to mention that so-called ‘honor killings’ targeting women were specific to Islamic culture and the influence of Israel has decreased this horrific crime. When Israel dismantled the Jewish communities in Gush Katif, the number of femicides in Gaza rose dramatically.
UN Watch, a non-governmental organization who monitors the performance of the United Nations, had a representative overseeing the proceedings. Hillel Neuer addressed the council, noting that the conclusion of the report was that, “when Palestinian men beat their wives, it’s Israel’s fault.”
He challenged Ms. Šimonović’s assertion that a link existed between Israel’s presence and violence against women.
“How do you know there is a ‘clear linkage’?” Neuer asked. “Where is the data? I don’t see it anywhere in the report.”
Neuer also decried the assertion as an injustice to the Palestinians.
“Is it right to continue infantilizing Palestinians, such that when a man in Ramallah beats his wife, we encourage him to say ‘Israel made me do it’?” Neuer stated.
“Why did you fail to mention that official Palestinian TV regularly broadcasts Islamic preachers who tell the people how to beat their wives?” he said, citing several examples. “The hitting is a kind of reminder that the love and friendship that Allah commanded is still found between the couple,” Neuer said, quoting a Mufti in Gaza.
Neuer’s comments were received poorly by the council. Council vice-president Amr Ahmed Ramadan of Egypt, broke with parliamentary protocol and refused to thank Neuer.
“I would like to say thank you, but I can’t—because I think that you need to respect this Council more in the next days,” Ramadan said.