Avi Issacharoff reported in Haaretz (July 14, 2010) that activists in the Palestinian anti-wall movement and the Palestinian Authority (PA) were trying to cover up the attempted rape of a foreign female activist by a Palestinian man in April. The man was arrested, and released after agreeing to apologize to her. However, she was persuaded to withdraw the complaint “to avoid tainting the image of the popular protest.” The Haaretz article claimed that “leaders of the Palestinian popular protests in villages such as Bil’in, Na’alim, Umm Salmuna, have been trying to keep [this] story away from both public knowledge and the media’s eye.”
This may not be an isolated event. Several “protest committees” have discussed other incidents of Palestinian sexual assaults on foreign activists, according to Issacharoff. Additionally, the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) includes a “sexual assault and harassment” section in its training program for volunteers, stating “we have heard about a lot of sexual harassment and assault specifically towards women in the West Bank.”
NGOs claiming to promote human rights and that are active in the region – including HRW, Amnesty, Al Haq, and B’Tselem – did not report on these incidents, nor did they demand internal PA and international investigations. NGO Monitor contacted several B’Tselem officials on two occasions, seeking information regarding any investigation the organization might be conducting regarding these very serious charges. B’Tselem did not respond.