Nationalist Women 'Humiliated'

Knesset Committee for Advancement of Women hears testimony of young women who were searched 'in order to break their spirit.'

Gil Ronen , | updated: 6:19 PM

Nationalist protest.
Nationalist protest.
Israel news photo

The Knesset's Committee for the Advancement of Women heard testimony Tuesday from young women who said that police conducted humiliating searches on them in order to break their spirits.

The session was chaired by MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) and attended by MKs Michael Ben-Ari (National Union), Shlomo Mula (Kadima) and Hanin Zuabi (Balad).

The committee heard the testimony of a young woman, identified as A. B., who was arrested in a demonstration against the expulsion from Gush Katif when she was 17.5 years old.

“A policewoman took me to the public restroom, closed the door and did not lock it, and told me to take off the outer clothes,” she said. “After arguing, when I realized I had no choice I stripped and remained with the underclothes. Then I was transferred to the police station at the Russian Compound where I was placed in a small room and told to strip completely. After I refused the policewoman told me that in that case she would have to call in a male policeman to help her. In order to prevent this situation I agreed to strip completely.”

Orit Strook, Chairwoman of the Organization for Human Rights in Judea and Samaria, told the committee that the humiliating searches of nationalist demonstrators are part of a pattern: “In most cases the search is carried out as a means of punishment, and the purpose is clear – to defeat the detained women, to deter them, to break their spirit.” Strook said that some police stations were respectful of female detainees' rights while others consistently violated them.

All of the young women and girls who testified said that they had not been informed of their legal rights.

MK Ben-Ari said that the events described were “very grave” ones. “These things caused a very serious emotional trauma and we must make sure that they do not happen again.”

MK Hotovely said that “the things we heard here are evidence of an unbearable reality and it appears that the search was conducted for the sake of punishment and was not necessitated by reality. This is a means of striking fear into hearts and it does not advance the rule of law... The police stations and those who work in them have to undergo a complete revision with respect to this matter and there must be greater sensitivity in the matter of searches on a woman's body.”