16. Women’s Role in the Gaza War

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The role of women in war is always harrowing: they are simultaneously seen as ‘victims’ as demonstrated in the ‘women and children’ mantra when assessing human costs – a phrase which implicitly robs men of their victimhood by virtue of being men – and women have historically been used in war as weapons, with rape and sexually abuse prevalent. This latest chapter in the Palestine/Israel War is no exception. The month-long Gaza conflict has slaughtered 1400+ human lives, 80% of civilians and when UN buildings were bombed, women and their children were the first victims. In tandem with this, there has been a worrying growth of misogyny coming out of Israel towards both Palestinian women and the ‘slut-shaming’ of Israeli women who speak up. On the other hand there many women involved in the Israeli War effort, either by directly fighting – remember that both men and women have compulsory military service in Israel – or by moral support through stripping, protesting etc.

Here is a selection of articles that should go some way to shed light on women’s role (or lack thereof) in the conflict.

 Misogyny in Israel:

There has been a worryingly growing acceptance of misogyny in mainstream political and cultural thought which is directed towards Palestinian women and Israeli women who dare to criticise the Gaza slaughter. A stance which is doubly ironic when one considers the claim that Israel is the ‘only democracy in the Middle East.’ On the other hand, a social media campaign has started which encourages women to strip for the IDF.

1. Israeli Professor Suggests Rape Would Serve as ‘Terror Deterrent’

2. Israel’s War against Gaza’s Women and their Bodies

3. Gaza War Brings Out the Worst in the Isaeli Misogyny, Racism

4. Israeli Women Strip, Post Photos to Facebook in Support of the IDF

5. A New Facebook Page Dedicated to the IDF Is Being Flooded With Sexy Selfies

6 . Court Motion Details Palestinians American Rasmea Odeh’s Torture by Israeli Jailers 

[I feel impelled to add a Trigger Warning to this last post; it describes harrowing account of sexual torture in the Israeli prison].

Life Within Gaza:

There were a plethora of articles to choose from for this section, however, fundamentally, the heart of the matter is the same: women are directly caught in hostilities both as mothers with their children and innocent civilians. A lot of the sources I read were extremely harrowing.

Note: most discourse coming out of Gaza from women seems to be focused upon women in care-giving position, usually mothers.

7. No Place To Go: Pregnant Women in Gaza

8. The Awful Decisions I’ve Made to Protect My Palestinian Children From This War

On the Gendered Nature of War:

9.Can Palestinian Men Be Victims? Gendering Israel’s War on Gaza

10. Women in War-Zones

11. On Men and War: Misogyny and Racism Run Parallel to Israel’s Militarism

Thus, the image that comes out of this is demonstrate yet again that women and their bodies are frequently used as nothing more than another weapon of war that can be discarded at will. Moreover, Palestinian women, when they are seen as humans, are categorised as victims, innocent and harmless. Both dichotomies are unfair and inaccurate. Women and children have been suffering greatly in this latest War and it is our role, as observers, to empathise and mourn them not as women caught in crossfire but as humans who have lost their lives in the gradual demise of Palestine.

Originally published on Infita7, on the 1st August 2014 here

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