Israel's Humiliating Practice of
Strip-searching Palestinian Women
Editorial Haaretz Editorial
September 05/6, 2023 -
Information Clearing House -
An Israel Defense Forces unit, which
included soldiers from the canine unit and
Kiryat Arba police, raided the Ajluni
family’s home in Hebron following
intelligence about illegal weapons.
According to the IDF Spokesman’s Unit, the
search on the night of July 10 uncovered an
M16 assault rifle, a magazine, and
ammunition. The eldest son, married with
three daughters, was arrested. His detention
has been extended several times.
Twenty-six family members, including 15
children, were gathered into the apartment
belonging to a brother, Abdullah, and his
wife, Amal. As is usual in such raids, the
women and children were separated from the
men; they were held in two rooms guarded by
The soldiers conducted body searches of the
men while they were clothed. The female
members of the family – the 53-year-old
mother, her 17-year-old daughter, and the
mother’s three daughters-in-law, all in
their 20s – were each taken, separately,
into the children’s room. There, according
to what they told both B’Tselem field
researcher Manal al-Ja’bari and Haaretz, two
armed and masked female soldiers demanded
that they strip nude.
Amal, the first who was asked to strip, was
forced to do so with her terrified children
present in the room. The women said there
was also a dog in the room and that when
they refused to take off their underwear,
the soldiers let him approach and threatened
to set him loose.
The IDF Spokesman’s Unit said the dog
wasn’t in the room, but didn’t explain why
the women had to strip. If they were trying
to hide ammunition or a rifle, that could
have easily been discovered without touching
them, certainly once they were down to their
Military raids on Palestinian homes are
routine. They happen every night, sometimes
to arrest people with weapons or an activist
in the popular protests against the
settlements, and sometimes for the purposes
of gathering information, deterrence, or
Like in other raids, the Ajluni family was
woken up by the sound of banging and
shouting, only to discover dozens of armed
soldiers, most of them masked. As always,
the dogs (at least two) added to the terror,
especially for the children. And here, too,
the women rushed to cover their nightclothes
with their prayer robes, which are easy to
It’s rare for soldiers to demand that women
strip completely, the B’Tselem researcher
said. But in recent months, she added, there
have been more such incidents. During the
mass searches of homes in Hebron that
followed a deadly shooting attack two weeks
ago, soldiers came to her home as well.
She, too, was told to strip, even though
she wasn’t suspected of weapons possession.
It’s clear the demand that women strip in
front of armed, masked female soldiers can’t
be interpreted as an “operational
necessity,” but rather a method of
humiliation for its own sake, for the larger
purpose of automatic punishment, oppression
and intimidation. If there are any actions
over which the black flag of illegality
flies, this is unquestionably one of them.
The above article is Haaretz’s lead
editorial, as published in the Hebrew and
English newspapers in Israel.
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