It is often taken as a fact that despite Israel’s diverse arsenal of violence, sexual violence is missing from its military toolbox. Within this tendency, Tal Nitsán’s claim that apart from the 1948 war and its aftermath, the rape of Palestinian women by Israeli male soldiers is a rare phenomenon significantly contributed to the perception of Israel as a state whose military avoids the use of sexual violence. This presentation treats Nitsán’s claim as symptomatic of war and conflict-related sexual violence discourse. It introduces an intersectional analysis of sexual violence’s conditions of possibility in the occupied Palestinian Territories (oPt). Based on testimonies of Palestinians and analysis of Israel’s control in the oPt, the presentation examines the pertinency and implications of each component in Nitsán’s claim: Israeli male soldiers, rape, Palestinian women, and war. My findings show that these categories work to silence Israel’s employment of sexual violence against Palestinians – men, women, and children - by a wide range of security agents who are not necessarily soldiers or exclusively male.
What is more, the rape in war paradigm distracts our attention from the colonial nature of Israeli control in the oPt and from the structural proximity between the vulnerability of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation and women who live in poverty. I argue these findings imply (1) the need to be more cautious considering the social categories researchers of sexual violence employ; (2) be attuned to the risks embodied in approaching rape as a universal and homogenised phenomenon, stripped of its specific context and the structure of power in which it materialises; and (3) encourage us to incorporate within our analysis power structures that transgress the framework of conflict or war-related sexual violence.
Please register in order to get a seat or the ZOOM link.