A Letter to International Organizations in the Name of the Women, Mothers, and Grandmothers 

The following letter has been signed by Lilian Grinberg, President of ICJW, and we urge all of our members and friends to sign it here.

An open letter to:

  • Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva, Switzerland, United Nations Women, New York, N.Y.
  • Reem Alsalem, Special Rapporteur on violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences;
  • Mama Fatima Singhateh, Special Rapporteur on the sale, sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children;
  • Morris Tidball-Binz, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions
  • Siobhán Mullally, Special Rapporteur on trafficking in persons, especially women and children;
  • Ashwini, K.P, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance;
  • Tomoya Obokata, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and consequences;
  • Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders
  • Dorothy Estrada Tanck (Chair), Ivana Radačić (Vice-chair), Elizabeth Broderick, Meskerem Geset Techane and Melissa Upreti, Working Group on discrimination against women and girls;
  • Livingstone Sewanyana, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order
  • Alice Jill Edwards, Special Rapporteur on Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Dear Sirs and Madams,

We, the undersigned are women. Some of us are mothers; some are grandmothers; some are sisters; and some of us are none of the above but still part of the sisterhood of women.

We have read with grave concern some of the notices released by you regarding the recent events in the south of Israel and in the Gaza strip. Why with concern? Because you seem to equate the war now raging in Gaza with what preceded it, the systematic terrorist attack launched by the “Hamas” on October 7, 2023 against innocent citizens of Israel in 21 villages and cities. In some of the notices, the horrific attack against Israel is hardly mentioned.

Naturally every loss of human life is a tragedy and we do not for a moment wish to minimize the suffering of the citizens of Gaza. Our hearts are with them as well as with our own victims. However, the two events cannot be equated.

Like the massacres in Rwanda and the Holocaust of World War II atrocities have been committed indiscriminately against innocent women, children and men, including the elderly, the disabled, parents, grandparents, Holocaust survivors , adolescents, children and babies. The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been long lived and tragic, but never has there been such systematic cruelty, perpetrated intentionally against a vulnerable population .  
Moreover, the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel has confirmed that information had been received from various reliable sources, that Hamas people perpetrated violent and severe sexual offences against innocent Israeli young women.

In our relativist world it is hard to say this, but what the Hamas perpetrated was pure evil, over and beyond what transpires during wars.

We have all seen the video clips transmitted by Hamas terrorists and their victims and ask ourselves:

  • Can dragging a naked woman  through the streets of Gaza City be considered part of a war for liberation?
  • Can the murder of a pregnant woman and the cutting open of her belly  to make sure the fetus is dead  – be considered part of a war for liberation?
  • Can dragging abducted women through the streets of Gaza City as trophies of war be considered part of a war for liberation?
  • Can murdering a baby  before the eyes of her mother be considered part of a war for liberation?

Nor is it a small thing that Hamas takes pride and joy in committing these atrocities, gleefully broadcasting them to the world. The following are just a smattering of the heinous crimes committed:

  • A baby of three months was murdered before its mother’s eyes (CNN interview with Adi Efrat from Kibbutz Beeri ).
  • More than 260 young people who participated in a music peace festival were slaughtered. In one such case, bullets, grenades and a rocket were shot directly into a shelter where the young people were hiding  (CNN interview with Lee Sassi).
  • A mother who emerged from her safe room to bring bottles of milk for her 10 month old twin babies was murdered in her own kitchen, as was her husband in his bed, while trying to protect the babies. Miraculously, the babies survived 14 hours without food or drink . (CBS News interview with Dvir Rozenfeld from Kfar Azza, the brother of the murdered woman).
  • A Holocaust survivor was abducted by Hamas in a wheelchair without her life saving medicines. (see N.Y. Post 8 October 2023 and America Today 9 October 2023).
  • More than 200 innocent women, children, babies and men are currently held hostage in Gaza.
  • Hamas beheaded human beings and burned people alive.  

As reputable international bodies charged with the protection of all human beings, and in particular the most vulnerable, we expect an unequivocal condemnation of these atrocities without equating them with what is now happening in Gaza, tragic as that is. The two are not fashioned from the same cloth.

One is a tragic war, whereas the other is evil incarnate which must be condemned with no reservations, just as the massacres in Rwanda and under Nazi rule were condemned without equivocation.  We do not believe for one moment that these actions represent the Palestinian people who are by and large decent. Any display of acceptance, however minimal, for these kinds of actions undermines the entire baseline of morality and human rights.

We also expect you to do all that you are authorized to do in order to bring about the release of the hostages.

We cannot find any better quote to support our plea than that of Nobel prize winner Aleksander Solzhenitsyn from his monumental book “The Gulag Archipelago”:

“In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.”

Sincerely yours,

  • Nava Ben-Or, retired judge, Jerusalem
  • Rahel Gershuni, international trafficking in persons expert
  • Shira Shaham, National Security Researcher, the Israeli Forum for Intelligence Studies
  • Yael Vias Gvirsman, Adv. Attorney-at-Law Specializing in International Law (Criminal), Founding Director, International Criminal and Humanitarian Law Clinic, Harry Radzyner Law School, Reichman University, Herzliya
  • Dr. Cochav Elkayam Levy, Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Reichman University
  • Judith Karp, former Deputy Attorney General of  The State of Israel and former Chairperson of the United Nations, The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

Click here to sign this open letter.