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31. It was impossible to describe the extremely harsh and brutal conditions faced by Palestinian women and children in the Israeli-occupied Territories. The number of martyrs as of 30 October 1988 was 411, including 60 women and 25 babes in arms. Of the total, 40 per cent were killed in their homes and 30 per cent were 15 years old or younger; 44 per cent were killed by shooting and 42 per cent by lethal tear gas. Prison conditions in general were inhuman, particularly in Abu Kbir prison and Ansar 3 concentration camp as well as in the Nave Tirsa women’s prison. None of those prisons met the minimum standard specified in the Geneva Convention. During the intifadah hospitals, clinics and health centres had registered over 500 cages of miscarriages attributable to toxic tear gas, severe beatings and kicking.
32. Six Palestinian youths had been buried alive but had subsequently been dug out by villagers. In February 1988 14 youths in the town of Qalqilya had been burned alive. Israeli soldiers had broken into the League of Arab Women’s Hospital in Nablus over 20 times and into the Al-Ahly hospital 12 times. Israeli soldiers had hurled canisters of lethal tear gas into hospital wards and had opened fire with live ammunition on visiting relatives.
33. In’ash El-Usra was the largest Palestinian family and children’s society and served at least 34,000 Palestinian women and children throughout the occupied Territories. It provided a strong income-generating infrastructure for Palestinian families, ran a full-time kindergarten and took care of approximately 330 orphans between the ages f 4 and 15. It also ran day-care centres, adult literacy, educational and cultural centres, a library and a folklore and research centre. On 20 June 1988, after continuous harassment, the Israeli authorities had closed the society for a period of two years and subsequently the society’s president, her friends and colleagues had been detained and subjected to prolonged periods of interrogation.
34. She expressed the hope that the international community would put pressure on the occupation authorities to revoke the closure of the society, allowing it to continue to service Palestinian families, as well as to restore all the confiscated property. If a society such as In’ash El-Usra could be closed without a comment of disapproval by the international community, the Israeli occupation authorities would regard it as a green light to close down other institutions servicing the needs of the Palestinian community.
35. In conclusion, she read out part of an open letter addressed by Palestinian women to American women expressing sorrow at having to listen to official representatives preaching about human rights while the Government did not question the morality of its unconditional support to Israel. An end to the brutalities practised against Palestinian women could only be reached through a comprehensive peace in conformity with United Nations General Assembly resolution 38/58 C and by the termination of the Israeli occupation and the withdrawal of its forces.
85. Mr. BEN DOV (Israel) regretted the politization of the discussion of the status of women. It was an issue that was of universal importance and should be discussed in a non-partisan manner. The recent terrorist attack against an Israeli woman and her children, for example, had not even been mentioned.
86. Israel had been founded by visionaries whose ideals included social justice and full equality between men and women. The women pioneers among them had sought such equality by insisting on the principle of shared labour. Women in Israel had full equality not only in law but in fact. The law provided for equal pay and equal opportunity, even in respect of maternity leave, to which men and women were both entitled, thereby enabling a couple to choose which parent would remain at home and giving women an additional degree of equality and dignity.
87. Certain outstanding personalities in Israel had served as role models for its women. Their average income was only 80 per cent of that of men. They were underrepresented in parliament and in upper levels of management. Efforts were under way to correct the situation and promote the advancement of women, particularly Arab and Druze women, whose life expectancy and educational levels were constantly rising. The Palestinian women in the territories administered by Israel were enjoying greater equality and higher status, as evidenced in the increasing number of Palestinian women joining the labour force or the university student population.
88. His delegation urged the adoption of the Forward-looking Strategies at the current General Assembly as an important means for furthering national and international progress for women.