Farida Deif, Middle East and North Africa researcher for the Women’s Rights Division at Human Rights Watch, and Lucy Mair, Israel/OPT researcher for the Middle East and North Africa Division, co-wrote this report based on field research carried out in East Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank in November and December 2005. Janet Walsh, deputy director of the Women’s Rights Division; Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of the Middle East and North Africa Division; Clarisa Bencomo, researcher in the Children’s Rights Division; Wilder Tayler, Legal and Policy director; and Joseph Saunders, deputy director of the Program Office, reviewed the report. Howayda Barakat, intern with the Middle East and North Africa Division, provided invaluable research and translation assistance. Erin Mahoney, Tamara Rodriguez Reichberg, Tarek Radwan, Andrea Holley, Fitzroy Hepkins, and José Martinez provided production assistance. Dr. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian and Maha Abu-Dayyeh Shamas reviewed and provided thoughtful and useful comments on a draft of the report.

Human Rights Watch gratefully acknowledges the assistance of the many individuals, government officials, and institutions in the OPT who were instrumental in our efforts to investigate violence against women and girls. Special thanks go to the Women’s Center for Legal Aid and Counseling (WCLAC); the Women’s Empowerment Program at the Gaza Community Mental Health Program; the Palestinian Working Women’s Society for Development (PWWSD); the Family Defense Society (FDS); Dr. Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian; and attorney Nasser Al-Rayes of Al-Haq.

We would like to specifically extend our warmest gratitude to Su`ad Abu Dayya and to Halima Abu-Sulb at WCLAC; Manal Awad, director of the Women’s Empowerment Program at GCMHP; Attadal Al-Jariri at PWWSD; and attorney `Ala’a al-Bakri, all of whom generously shared their unique knowledge of violence against Palestinian women and helped us to organize dozens of interviews. Dr. Asem Khalil, director of research at the Institute of Law at Birzeit University, provided much needed information on the Palestinian criminal justice system and the informal justice system.

Most of all, Human Rights Watch wishes to thank all the courageous women and girls who were willing to speak to us of their experiences of violence, without whom this report would not have been possible.

We acknowledge with gratitude the financial support of the Lisbet Rausing Charitable Fund, the Sigrid Rausing Trust, the Moriah Fund, the Oak Foundation, the Streisand Foundation, the Silverleaf Foundation, the Banky-LaRocque Foundation, the Schooner Foundation, the Jacob and Hilda Blaustein Foundation, the Chicago Foundation for Women, the Gruber Family Foundation, and the members of the Advisory Committee of the Women’s Rights Division. The Middle East and North Africa Division would like to especially acknowledge the generous support of Hassan Elmasry, Rasha Mansouri, and the Pears Foundation.