WCLAC lodges a submission with the UN – On 16 May 2017WCLAClodged a submission with the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, Mr. Michael Lynk. Mr. Lynk, who was not granted access to the Occupied Palestinian Territory by Israel, conducted his annual mission to the region in Amman and invited human rights organisations to brief him on the human rights situation on the ground. Ms. Randa Siniora, General Director of WCLAC, presented WCLAC’s submission to Mr. Lynk and his staff. WCLAC’s submission highlighted human rights violations that affect Palestinian women in Jerusalem and was based on 30 testimonies collected by WCLAC during the period 1 April 2016 – 30 April 2017. The submission focused on night raids, property destruction, threat of eviction, soldier violence, settler violence, child arrest and family unification. Read more
Three women elected as Presidents of local councils in Hizma, al-Masira, and Azoon –
The first Palestinian local and municipal elections since 2012 were held on May 13th in around 326 localities in the West Bank, with voter turnout recorded at 53.4%. In Hizma, East Jerusalem,Samar Salah al-Din was elected as Council President, her aims are to develop infrastructures, improve services, and provide more care and developmental programs for children, women, youth, and the elderly. Al-Masira, Bethlehem, electorates voted for Fatima Barijah as President. At age 64 she is proudly the first woman elected from her age group; she believes women are under-represented in local councils and their successes should be celebrated, alongside improving work and education opportunities for women and youth. In Azoon, Qalqiliya, Yasra Badwan was elected as Council President, at age 26 she is the youngest woman to hold the position. Badwan fought against gender prejudice in her community and believes all women have the ability to be members of national institutions and municipal councils.
Voices of women from Jerusalem - Voices of women from Jerusalem - On 29 March 2017, about 100 Israeli soldiers surround the house of 26-year-old mother from Silwan and give the family 10 minutes to evacuate the house before demolishing it. “My name is Nafiza and I am 26 years old. I live in Silwan neighborhood in East Jerusalem with my husband Imam and our four children aged 1 to 9. I live with my family in an independent 100 square meters spaced house, made of two floors; it has three bedrooms, a living room, a bathroom and a kitchen. Our house was built in 2004; we didn’t apply for a building permit; because when Jerusalemites, especially those who live in Silwan area, submit building permit applications to the Israeli authorities, they are either rejected or are referred to endless court proceedings which are very costly.” The practice of house demolitions, even though condemned by the international community, is still a prominent issue in the lives of Palestinians, and places a shadow of fear in the minds of many women and their families. Read more
Starving with their sons – On May 27th, Palestinian prisoners ended their 40 day hunger strike in protest for improved conditions and visitation rights. The strike ended after negotiations were achieved between the Israel Prison Service and strike leaders, agreeing to two family visits per month; the Red Cross had reduced visits a year ago to once per month due to Israeli pressure. Some 1600 prisoners took part in the strike and received widespread support across Palestine, and internationally, solidarity was rife amongst the female family members of the imprisoned. Latifa al-Naji Abu Humaid’s family are worried about her health. They are trying to convince the 70-year-old that she should start eating again. But Latifa is determined to continue refusing food in solidarity with her sons who areundertakinga hunger strike behind Israeli bars. “I cannot eat while my sons are starving,” said Latifa, who lives in al-Amari refugee camp nearRamallah, a city in the occupied West Bank. “If they end the hunger strike, I will too.” Read more
'Diary’ by Fida Jiryis – Fida Jiryis is a Palestinian author based in Ramallah, this extract is from the publication Kingdom of Olives and Ash released on May 30th.
'I’ll take it!’ I said, glancing round the empty apartment. The lady didn’t smile or show any sign of agreement. I was beginning to feel uneasy. She’d looked up at me questioningly when I knocked on the open door of her office a few minutes earlier. Something about me must have given me away. The new blocks of flats were in a perfect location, halfway between my village and Nahariyya, a small seaside town in the Galilee. I’d be close to my parents, my work and the beach. I’d driven past many times while they were under construction, and as soon as they were advertised for rent I was impatient to have a look. I’d finish work every day and go jogging on the beach …'Can I help you?’ the lady had asked, still measuring me up. 'Yes, I’d like to see one of the apartments you’ve advertised for rent.’ My accent gave me away; I was an Arab. She looked uncomfortable. Read more
The Nakba – May 15th commemorated Nakba day, considered one of the biggest catastrophes in Palestinian history. Between 750,000 and one million Palestinians were forced out their homes prior to 1948 and up until the establishment of Israel. It has subsequently created what has now become the world’s longest lasting refugee crisis with camps being set up in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria to home expelled Palestinians. Though they were due to be temporary structures, the camps became permanent and still stand today. As families expand, the camps have become overpopulated. Follow the journey of a refugee in 1948 Palestine here.
The lonely journey of a Palestinian cancer patient – The patient in Room 120 was struggling, you could see right away, on what her oncologist called “the cancer journey.” She was three long years into this trip. Today she felt a pain jabbing its fist into her right side. But Maweya Abu Salah was not done yet. She was a mother who wanted to see her children again. The Washington Post details one story of a family affected by the harsh reality of occupation, keeping children from visiting their dying mother who is being treated in Israel. The children wanted to be by her side. They were Palestinians stuck on the other side of Israel’s borders and barriers.Read more
'I Belonged Nowhere': A Story Of Displacement, From A Novelist Who Knows – Hala Alyan is a Palestinian poet, author, and clinical psychologist living in Brooklyn, in May she released her first novel Salt Houses.At the very start of the novel,a woman buys a coffee set — a dozen cups, a coffee pot, a tray. It's a simple act that unexpectedly becomes painful. The woman is Palestinian - part of a family displaced after the founding of Israel - and the tray reminds her of an old one she lost in one of the family's many moves. Alyan builds her story on little moments like that - a peek into the lives of several generations, forced to relocate and resettle. Her characters are lost and looking for a home. The Palestinian-American author writes from experience. She says she imagined her fictional characters with her own displaced family members in mind. Read more
Memories of Nakba from those who survived it - “I am from there and I have memories,” the poetMahmoud Darwishwrote of his native Palestine in his famous poem “I Am From There.” And memories of “there” are at the heart of Palestine Is Our Home: Voices of Loss, Courage and Steadfastness, a valuable new collection of essays edited by Palestinian-American Nahida Halaby Gordon. These essays contain numerous first-hand accounts of the Nakba, the forced expulsion of more than 750,000 Palestinians by Zionist paramilitaries in 1948. A professor emerita at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, Gordon was a member of the Middle East Study Committee of the Presbyterian Church USA. She brings that experience to this book by assembling study questions at the end of each account, making the book a most useful study guide for groups just beginning an inquiry into the Palestinian liberation struggle. Read more
Isra Al-Thibeh: Afro-Palestinian Poet on the Power of Writing - You can find her tucked into a cozy chair as she winds down after a long day — arms gently rested on her desk, pen and paper in hand, and a glass of water to her right. Although she is now 24 years old, Isra Al-thibeh has been writing for as long as she can remember.“When writing, I give myself a space to heal,” she says. “I may not write what I wish to hear all the time, but it allows me to face my afflictions, to recognize, unpack and make peace between the person I am and the person I am slowly evolving into.”Having both Nigerian and Palestinian ancestry, born in a refugee camp, and raised in the western world — the young poet recognizes the layers of complexities as well as layers of oppression that exist within one’s community. She is most inspired by stories and experiences, aware that consolidating every piece of her identity is her biggest struggle as a writer. Read more