‘Credible allegations’ of Palestinian women and girls being raped and executed by Israeli troops: UN experts

NEW YORK: UN experts on Monday expressed alarm over “credible allegations of egregious human rights violations” against Palestinian women and girls in the Gaza Strip and West Bank.

They are being arbitrarily executed, arbitrarily detained, raped or threatened with sexual violence, the experts said, adding that 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.”

They called for the perpetrators to be held accountable, and for victims’ families to receive “full redress and justice.”

The experts cited instances of Palestinian women and girls being reportedly arbitrarily executed in Gaza, often 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,” they said.

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

The independent experts include the working group on discrimination against women and girls, the special rapporteur on violence against women and girls, Reem Alsalem, and Francesca Albanese, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories.

They expressed concern about 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 7 October.”

They have reportedly been subjected to “inhuman and degrading treatment, denied menstruation pads, food and medicine, and severely beaten,” the experts said, adding that on at least one occasion, female detainees were put in a cage and left without food in the rain and cold.

The UN experts also expressed distress at reports of multiple forms of sexual assault against Palestinian female detainees, including being stripped naked and searched by male Israeli officers.

“At least two female Palestinian detainees were reportedly raped while others were reportedly threatened with rape and sexual violence,” the experts said, adding that that photos of female detainees in “degrading circumstances” were also reportedly taken by Israeli soldiers and uploaded online.

They also expressed concern that “an unknown number of Palestinian women and children, including girls,” have 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,” they said.

“We 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.”

The experts called for an independent, impartial, prompt, thorough and effective investigation into the allegations, and for Israel to cooperate.

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