By Sophie Squire
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2911

Israel uses sexual violence to dehumanise and humiliate

Zionist sexual violence is part of a process of denying Palestinians their dignity
Issue 2911
IDF soldiers patrol the northern border (Picture: Flickr/Israeli Defense forces)

Israeli soldiers patrol the northern border (Picture: Flickr/Israeli Defense forces)

The Israeli state has repeatedly said that gender-based violence perpetrated by Hamas on 7 October is a justification for its genocide of Palestinians in Gaza.

But as a large section of a recent report written by the United Nations Human Rights Council says, it’s the Zionist state that systematically uses sexual and gender-based violence as a tool to crush resistance.

The report starts by saying that the increase in sexual and gender-based violence since 7 October is linked to “an intention to punish and humiliate Palestinians”.

It only covers the first three months of Israel’s assault on Gaza, so the number of these crimes committed by Israel is likely much greater.

The commission heard from a male Palestinian witness who saw sexual abuse perpetrated by Israeli soldiers at Salah al-Din street during an evacuation.

He said that Israeli soldiers forced women to undress to their underwear and take off their headscarves.

He said the soldiers subjected women, one as young as 17, to sexual harassment. The soldiers mocked Palestinian men for not being able to do anything.

Backed by the West the Israeli state believes that it can commit these crimes with impunity.

A spokesperson said that Israeli forces had conducted themselves in line with international law.

Believing that they won’t be punished for their crimes means that Israeli soldiers are open about their sexist crimes.

A Zionist soldier posted videos on his social media account of him going through a woman’s underwear drawer.

Another used a picture of himself posing with underwear as if they were trophies on his dating profile.

One photo posted on social media showed a Zionist soldier posing against a wall where the words, “Shall he make our sister into a whore” were written in Hebrew.

Israeli forces repeatedly used sexualised violence against Palestinian men.

The report says that on many occasions when Zionist troops have captured Palestinian men, they were told to strip and walk naked or partially clothed through the streets.

One victim of these humiliating tactics told the commission that Israeli forces had forced him and 50 other men to walk barefoot through the streets in their underwear.

They were forced to kneel beside other men and boys. He added that a female Israeli soldier forced two teenage boys to strip and dance in their underwear and laughed at them.

And the sexualised violence isn’t confined to Gaza. The report details one case where human rights defenders went to a Bedouin village to try and stop Israeli settlers, backed by soldiers, from terrorising villagers.

Along with beating, threatening and looting the villagers, they detained two Palestinian human rights activists and one villager for nine hours. One of the victims said that he asked for water and settlers urinated on him.

The perpetrator also placed a stick by the victim’s anus and tried to insert it. After the ordeal the victim had to seek medical help.

The Zionist state has used sexual violence like this since the inception of Israel. During the Nakba, or catastrophe of 1948, there are reports of Israeli soldiers viewing sexual violence as a celebratory act.

And women and men held in Israeli prisons have said they are repeatedly subjected to rapes and beatings at the hands of Israeli prison officers.

The violence the report details is the continuation of brutal colonial projects that seek to humiliate, beat down and rob Palestinians of their humanity.

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