By WCIA Volunteer, Emily Clegg
On Thursday 16 March. WCIA hosted talks from three Palestinian women, Naheel, Im Shadi and Afnan, who discussed their daily experiences living in occupied territories in the region.
The construction of Israeli civilian communities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas captured by Israel in the 1967 6- Day war, has been a major source of tension between Israelis and Palestinians. The ‘Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect’ says this involves systematic violations of Palestinian’s human rights, including displacement, and military violence.
The women spoke of the constant dangers and uncertainties that Palestinians endure, such as military checkpoints that involve personal possession searches and restricts their freedom of movements. Im Shadi shared the reality of women giving birth or sick/injured people dying at checkpoints, which is an all-too-common occurrence, due to prolonged waiting times or being denied access altogether. She also gave examples of Palestinians being killed at these checkpoints. A news article by abc NEWS says that in 2022 150 Palestinians were killed by Israeli troops, with a further 36 killed in early 2023.
“It is a miserable life, and we are suffering under the Israeli occupation.”Im Shadi
Naheel illustrated how Palestinians live as refugees, many having lost their homes and the comforts and security they provide, and being forced to live in unsafe refugee camps. For those who remain in their homes, the constant threat of demolition or dispossession creates perpetual stress and uncertainty. Many Palestinian towns and villages have been destroyed or are at risk of demolition in favour of industrial development, including Naheel’s home village.
The women explained how Palestinian women in particular are targeted through humiliation and threats, as Israeli forces recognised the important role women play within families and communities, and as they are the most vulnerable members within communities.
One member of the audience said:
“I was both shocked and inspired by the women’s stories. The daily abuses of human rights they have to suffer are shocking. Everyone should know about the reality of the situation for Palestinian communities on the ground. I really admire their resilience and their bravery in speaking out. I’ll definitely be sharing their stories with others.”
Afnan concluded her talk by emphasising the bravery and resilience of Palestinian women in the face of adversity.
“Our role, as a Palestinian woman, is that we are brave, we want to raise our children in a good way, we are always fighting and standing alongside all the community.” She said.
Chief Executive of WCIA, Susie Ventris-Field said:
“Events like this are vital to raise awareness of what is happening to people, and particularly women in Palestine.”
The women were invited to the UK by the human rights charity ‘Camden Abu Dis Friendship Association’ (CADFA) as part of the Building Hope, Voices from Palestine Project, to give voice to the Palestinian women facing discrimination.