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Palestinian women are suffering under Israeli occupation

The Palestine Poster Project Archives display this as one of the earliest posters featuring women in the resistance | Courtesy of the General Union of Palestinian Women in 1980

Inter-sectional feminism which aims to support women as a whole cannot support the Israeli government. 

Palestinian women live under the omnipresent threat of having their homes demolished or being evicted at any time, while Israeli women who live across the apartheid wall do not have to endure this dehumanization

Hindering Palestinian’s, especially women’s, ability to raise their next generation and to sustain, educate and care for themselves and one another is key to achieving these goals. The institutionalized destruction of Palestinian women’s lives has been a primary feature of the Israeli apartheid state. 

Israeli forces are notorious for conducting night raids on homes to maintain authority. The Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counselling has collected testimonies from women who have been subjected to violent home raids where soldiers are heavily armed and threaening and forcibly removing them from their homes. According to the WCLAC many women have reported suffering from trauma following a night raid.

Last year, WCLAC launched a submission to the UN special rapporteurs stating that 1,360 night raids are conducted each year, a majority of which are within 2 kilometers of an illegal Israeli settlement

Palestinians have continued to suffer healthcare discrimination under the apartheid state. The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women found that Palestinian women and girls residing in Israel “continue to register poor health outcomes, particularly infant and maternal mortality.”

The life expectancy of an Israeli woman is 10 years longer than that of a Palestinian woman.

These crimes against humanity have severe psychological impact on the Palestinian women causing them anxiety and leading to depression. On top of the psychological impacts the occupation has inflicted on them,  women are left to continuing surviving and ensuring the well being of their families as 40% of Palestinian men have been detained since 1967.

Along with the psychological impacts of occupation, the 98 Israeli checkpoints throughout the West Bank have humiliated and blocked pregnant women from receiving the proper health care that they need to give birth. Women are forced to give birth under circumstances that are beyond their control.

Between the years 2000 and 2005, 67 women were forced to give birth at the Israeli military checkpoints. 36 of these babies died due to the conditions they came to this world in.

The livelihood of Palestinians is undermined and dehumanized everyday the occupation continues and no one feels it as much as women when they lose their unborn child after surviving 9 months of occupation to the ruthless decision of the soldier at the checkpoint.   

The healthcare in Gaza is at the mercy of the Israeli military due to the blockade.

Patients are in need of travel permits which are often delayed or denied. In 2016, the WCLAC reported that 1,726 permits were denied and 8,242 were delayed so long that they did not receive a response in time for their appointments. 

The situation of Palestinian women is described by the Women’s Centre for Legal Aid ad Counseling, as a “community placed under physical and psychological pressure by the prevailing authority with an intention of making not only day-to-day life unbearable, but destroying any hope in a brighter future.”

Although Palestinian women’s abilities to live full, secure lives and to contribute to building communities capable of flourishing in the present and in future generation have been undermined by Israel’s settler colonial policies, Palestinian women have persevered.

They persevere and fight for the equality of all women, unlike the mainstream icon of feminism today Gal Gadot who played in Wonder Woman. Mainstream feminist cannot comprehend that racism and sexism are not experienced separately but simultaneously. We cannot consider Gal Gadot a feminist when she served as an IDF soldier and is a proud supporter of the 2014 Gaza assault where there were 2,168 Palestinian casualties, over 500 being children.

Palestine’s most famous icon of resistance is Leila Khaled. In 1969, Khaled and her comrade hijacked TWA flight 840 flying from Rome to Tel Aviv, forcing the pilot to fly over Haifa so she can see her hometown that millions are Palestinians are forbidden from going back to. Since then she has been apart of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and her attacks received international recognition and revitalized the question of Palestine internationally.

She is not the first Palestinian woman to take an active role in the fight. Shortly before the creation of Israel, Palestinian women  formed “Zahrat Al-Uqhuwan”, which translates to “The Daisy,” which provided men with medical services, carried food, water, and ammunition. They also dug trenches and erected barricades. heroic women in battle, such as Hulwa Zeidan, who witnessed the tragic death of both her husband and son while fighting for their homeland, and then moved on to sacrifice her life in resisting Zionist colonizers .

After their defeat in the 1948 war, which resulted in the eviction of more than a million Palestinians, women found themselves in dire need of employment. They formed organizations to overcome these newly emerging problems, such as the Arab Child Welfare House, the Young Adults Welfare House, the Arab Women’s Association, the Young Arab Women’s Club, and the Red Crescent Society. They founded the General Union of Palestinian Women which provided material support for the revolution and families, and strive to preserve the rich Palestinian folklore and heritage.

In 1929, a Women’s Conference empowered woman by giving birth to the Palestine Arab Women’s Union whose primary task was to care for the children of martyrs and prisoners. Woman were ready for an intifada and their organizing acted as the backbone of the resistance.   

The stories of Palestinian women are ones of resilience, resistance, and perseverance that every women can continue to learn from as their fight for liberation continues.

Guest columnist Dina Hamadi is a double degree in political science and middle eastern studies and can be reached at [email protected]

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