The Al Haq Institute, a human rights center based in Palestine, issued a statement marking International Womens' Day yesterday, stating that Palestinian women are subjected to continual abuse of their basic human rights by the 40-year old Israeli occupation. The Institute added that Palestinian women are also denied their basic rights and protection within Palestinian society.  Additionally, it was stated that Israel continuing occupation of Palestine, including East Jerusalem.  They note that the siege and military assault on the Gaza Strip is one of the main examples of Israeli policy of collective punishment of civilians.  Collective punishment is in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions and International Law.

Ongoing restrictions of movement, the Annexation Wall, settler-only roads, and more than 500 military roadblocks are restricting the movement of the residents, according to the Institute, preventing access to education, employment, and medical care.  The Institute also stated that several Palestinian women were forced to give birth at Israeli roadblocks due to the Israel's policy of closures and siege in the Occupied Territories.

“Palestinian women and girls are, along with the rest of the Palestinian population, regularly subjected to harassment, intimidation, and ill-treatment at Israeli checkpoints scattered throughout the West Bank, including around East Jerusalem”, the Al Haq Institute stated, “Such treatment constitutes as an assault on their dignity and security of person in violation of both international human rights and humanitarian law. Palestinian women and girls have also not escaped the violent consequences of Israel’s repeated military incursions and attacks in the Occupied Territories”.

The Al Haq Institute added, since last International Womens' Day, 24 Palestinian women were killed by the Israeli army, among them were five children. The Israeli army killed 288 women, including 105 children, since the beginning of the second Intifada in late September 2000.

“These killings amount to grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention, mandating individual criminal responsibility,” accodring to the Institute.  They call for the protection of Palestinian women under all circumstances, and for the enforcement equal rights for all civilians without exceptions.

The Al Haq Institute also expressed grave concern regarding the issue of “honor killings,” which has become known as “femocide,” and added that the lack of law enforcement and pressure within the community enables all forms of violence against women.

The Institute outlined a list of recommendations as follows:

– for the international community to compel Israel to immediately cease all acts that violate the fundamental rights and protections guaranteed to women and girls under international human rights and humanitarian law.

– for the international community, in accordance with Article 146 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to prosecute individuals who have committed, ordered or knowingly failed to prevent, the willful killing of Palestinian women and girls.

– for the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to ensure that all legislation contains provisions for the protection and promotion of the equality and fundamental rights of women and girls.

– for the PNA to adopt thorough and effective law enforcement and judicial procedures, to investigate, prosecute and punish individuals found to have committed acts of harassment, violence and/or femicide against women or girls.

– for the PNA to issue an unconditional formal declaration that it will adhere to all the provisions of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, and be held accountable for breaches thereof.

– for Israel, the PNA, the de facto Hamas government, and the international community to comply with the provisions of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security.