Amnesty International released a report on 31 March 2005 headlined "Israel and the Occupied Territories: Conflict, occupation and patriarchy – Women carry the burden". Reflecting this NGO’s consistent strongly pro-Palestinian political agenda, this report also blames Israel for intra-Palestinian violence against women. Rather than a significant examination of the status of women, the document, which relies on biased sources and lacks credibility, exploits this issue in the political campaign against Israel. The authors patronizingly deny Palestinian society the maturity to act responsibly, instead blaming Israeli policies for these failures.
After repeating the standard one-dimensional condemnations of Israeli policy, Amnesty asserts: "The resulting damage to the fabric of Palestinian society has deeply affected women, who have been at the receiving end of increased pressures and violence in the family and in society… and they have borne the brunt of the anger and frustration of male relatives who feel humiliated because they cannot fulfill their traditional role as providers." Furthermore, Amnesty employs the language and techniques of the 2001 Durban conference, selectively quoting the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Preamble, paras 10 and 11)(4): "…the eradication of apartheid, all forms of racism, racial discrimination, colonialism, neo-colonialism, aggression, foreign occupation and domination and interference in the internal affairs of States is essential to the full enjoyment of the rights of men and women."
Referring to "Life under siege", without reference to Palestinian terrorism and the impact on Israeli women and families, Amnesty condemns Israeli restrictions on movements of Palestinians. Devoid of any analysis, these measures are simply dismissed as "disproportionate and discriminatory – they are imposed on all Palestinians because they are Palestinians, and not on Israeli settlers who live illegally in the Occupied Territories…They are broad and indiscriminate in their application and as such are unlawful." Amnesty ignores the context behind checkpoints and other physical barriers, and shifts the focus to the political dispute over boundaries.
Additionally, while pointing out isolated and tragic incidents that have occurred at checkpoints involving pregnant Palestinian women, Amnesty immorally erases the impact of several suicide bombings and other terrorist acts, including those carried out by or involving female Palestinians. Likewise, Amnesty ignores the clearly documented abuse of ambulances and other medical materials for terror purposes while criticizing access to medical facilities.
Amnesty relies upon a number of sources that are either politically biased or simply unreliable. The report, for example, quotes the highly politicized Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, which claims that "the rate of survival of breast cancer patients in the Gaza Strip is only 30-40%, compared to 70-75% in Israel", ignoring the obvious differences between the advanced medical facilities of Israel and those of the Palestinian Authority irrespective of conflict conditions. Many of the allegations cite anonymous Palestinians, and photos and quotes are provided by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights and Palestine Monitor, neither of which can be considered credible.
The second half of Amnesty’s report deals with societal violence against Palestinian women, in which Palestinian men are condescendingly excused from taking responsibility for their actions. According to Amnesty’s highly distorted version: "Restrictions on movement and curfews which confine people to their homes for prolonged periods, and increased unemployment, poverty and insecurity, which have forced men to spend more time at home, as well as the increase in crowded conditions in the home, have contributed to the increase in violence against women, including sexual abuse, within the family."
The report notes the lack of legal protection for Palestinian women and the inability of Palestinian law enforcement agencies to uphold the rule of law. This, Amnesty also attributes, again without serious analysis, to the Israeli destruction of "much of the PA security installations and other institutions and has prevented PA security forces from operating in much of the Occupied Territories." The chronic failure of the PA’s leadership to carry out reform of the security services is entirely ignored, and rape, family violence and ‘honor killings’ are simply blamed on Israeli actions. Thus, the absurd claims of an anonymous "Head of Palestinian Police Investigations in a West Bank town" are repeated at face value: "The Israeli army comes into the town every day, killing and abducting people, destroying houses and so on… So how can we help people there?"
To its credit, Amnesty’s report includes a short section near the end addressing female perpetrators of Palestinian terrorism. The report also includes an appendix of "Israeli and Palestinian women as victims of armed attacks". However, this minor afterthought to the main report also draws an amoral equivalence between Israeli victims of deliberate terror attacks and Palestinian women who died as an unintended result of Israeli counter-terror operations.
In conclusion, Amnesty’s latest report exploits the rhetoric of women’s rights to produce another extremist political attack on Israel, while exempting Palestinians from acting responsibly.