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Since the Hamas-led attacks in southern Israel on October 7 and the Israeli military's ensuing bombardment of the Gaza Strip, Human Rights Watch has analyzed evidence to document and report on serious abuses by Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups.

Throughout the year, we covered many topics from around the world. From a blockbuster report on Saudi border killings to Iran's feminist uprising to rollbacks and victories for LGBT rights, these were the most-read stories on our site this year. 

Airbursts of artillery-fired white phosphorus fall over the Gaza city port, October 11, 2023.  © 2023 Mohammed Adeb/AFP via Getty Images

1. Israel Uses White Phosphorous in Gaza and Lebanon
In October, Human Rights Watch documented Israel’s use of white phosphorus in military operations in Gaza and Lebanon. The use of incendiary weapons in populated areas puts civilians at grave risk.

 2. Videos of Hamas-Led Attacks Verified
Following the October 7 attacks by Hamas-led gunmen, Human Rights Watch verified four videos showing three incidents of deliberate killings. We have called for the attacks to be investigated as war crimes.

A video published on TikTok on December 4, 2022 shows a group of roughly 47 migrants, 37 of whom appear to be women, walking along a steep slope inside Saudia Arabia on the trail used to cross from the migrant camp of Al Thabit. © 2022 Private

3. Mass Killings of Migrants at the Saudi-Yemen Border
A report in August documented how Saudi border guards have killed at least hundreds of Ethiopian migrants and asylum seekers who tried to cross the Yemen-Saudi border between March 2022 and June 2023.

 Left to Right, Adam Ayyad, Wadea Abu Ramuz, Mahmoud al-Sadi, and Mohammed al-Sleem. © Private

4. Spike of Israeli Killings of Palestinian Children in the West Bank
Another August report looked at Israeli forces' killings of Palestinian children in the West Bank. At the time of the report's release, at least 34 children had been killed in the West Back since the start of 2023. 

People displaced by fighting between the M23 armed group and Congolese government forces gather north of Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, on November 25, 2022. © 2022 AP Photo/Jerome Delay

5. Atrocities by Rwanda-Backed Rebels in the DR Congo
A February report found that the Rwanda-backed M23 armed group was responsible for summary executions and forced recruitment of civilians in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. Warring parties in the DR Congo have put civilians in remote areas of North Kivu province at a heightened risk.

Muhammad al-Ghamdi © Private

6. Saudi Arabia Sentences Man to Death Over Tweets
In July, a Saudi court sentenced retired schoolteacher Muhammad al-Ghamdi to death solely over his Twitter and YouTube activity. The verdict marked a stark escalation of the Saudi government’s crackdown on freedom of expression and peaceful dissent in the country.

A crowd of people gather outside the US Supreme Court in Washington DC, May 2, 2022. © 2022 AP Photo/Anna Johnson

7. Human Rights Crisis: Abortion in the United States After Dobbs
After the United States Supreme Court overturned the constitutionally protected right to access abortion in June 2022, people in the US who can become pregnant have faced an unprecedented rights crisis. Nearly one year later, this article documented the intensifying emergency caused by the decision.

LGBTQIA activists and supporters take part in a pride parade demanding equal legal rights and marking the month of June as a pride month in Kathmandu, Nepal, June 11, 2022.  © 2022 Abhishek Maharjan/Sipa USA via AP Images

8. Nepal Court Orders Recognition of Same-Sex Spouse
In May, Nepal's Supreme Court instructed the government to recognize the same-sex foreign spouse of a Nepali citizen. It said that failure to recognize same-sex spouses violates Nepal’s constitution and its international human rights obligations.

The carrier section of an 9M27K-series Uragan rocket lodged in the ground near a family’s home in Hlynske village, apparently fired from the west, where Ukrainian forces controlled territory while the area was under Russian occupation in 2022.  Each rocket delivers 30 9N210 or 9N235 submunitions. © 2022 Human Rights Watch 

9. Ukrainian Civilian Deaths from Cluster Munitions
Since Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, forces on both sides have used banned, indiscriminate cluster munitions which have harmed civilians and have the capability to do so for many years to come.

Members of an opposition party picket against Uganda's anti-homosexuality bill at the Uganda High Commission in Pretoria, South Africa, April 4, 2023. © 2023 Alet Pretorius/Gallo Images via Getty Images

10. Uganda's President Signs Repressive Anti-LGBT Law
In May, Uganda's president signed into law a regressive bill that includes potentially the death penalty for those convicted of “aggravated homosexuality.” The law violates multiple fundamental rights.

An Iranian woman walks along a street-side in Tehran without wearing her headscarf, October 2, 2022.  © 2022 Morteza Nikoubazl/NurPhoto via AP Photo

11. Unveiling Resistance: The Struggle for Women's Rights in Iran
Sweeping public protests that erupted across Iran in September 2022 have been characterized by many observers as the first feminist uprising in the region. This article looks closely at how the broader struggle of women for equal rights in Iran has evolved over the years.

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