Palestinian women are leading the resistance against Israel’s forced migration and threats of displacement in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem.
While the tension that started with Israel’s attacks in East Jerusalem is rising, the historic Sheikh Jarrah is at the center of the events.
Sheikh Jerrah is an area where diplomatic representations and institutions are located near the region where Palestinians live in East Jerusalem, and has also been associated with Jewish settlers’ attacks on Palestinians living in the region.
In the neighborhood, 27 Palestinian families face pressure to evacuate their homes in favor of Jewish settlers and the threat of forced eviction due to a ruling by Israeli authorities.
Palestinians have long held demonstrations at Sheikh Jarrah to support families threatened with forced eviction.
Despite attacks by Israeli police and Jewish settlers, Palestinians continue their peaceful demonstration.
Many Palestinian women also support the demonstrations, while the Israeli police use disproportionate force against the demonstrators.
Anadolu Agency spoke to Palestinian women who were detained by Israeli police.
Activist Meryem Afifi, who was detained last week in a demonstration in Sheikh Jarrah, said she was beaten while detained by the Israeli police.
Afifi, who is also a musician, was released after two days in detention.
A photo of her while being taken into custody by Israeli police was widely used by international media outlets and social media.
“Many people said I was smiling for the cameras,” she said. “Of course, I wasn’t laughing at the cameras, but with my other friends who were demonstrating in the field. Yes, even though it was a time of detention, I was right and I had the right. The rightful person also smiles and is not afraid.”
According to Afifi, resistance to the occupation cannot be put only on the shoulders of men and children. “If we women do not resist this occupation, if we do not demand our rights, if we do not struggle to stay in this land, who will do this?” she asked.
Without victory in Sheikh Jarrah, we will lose all Jerusalem
Stressing that if they do not stand against what is happening in Sheikh Jarrah now, it will be repeated throughout the holy city, Afifi said: “If we do not achieve victory in Sheikh Jarrah, we will lose all Jerusalem.”
Saying that Israel aims to make the Jewish population the majority in Jerusalem and reduce the Palestinian population, Afifi added, “This is the initial plan, we don’t know what comes next.”
Stressing that Palestinian women will continue to be one of the key pillars of the struggle against the occupation, Afifi said: “We want to live as free citizens in a free homeland. (That) homeland is Palestine.”
“Many people around the world think that in 1948 everything with the name Palestine was over, but we will prove that this is not the case and Palestine exists,” she added.
Grandmother’s spirit of resistance
Activist Muna al-Kurd, who earned a degree in communications and journalism, comes from one of 27 Palestinian families who face the threat of deportation in Sheikh Jarrah.
Saying that Palestinian woman have long been resisters, al-Kurd, who has been detained many times, said that throughout history, Palestinian women have always been at the forefront and fought with all their might against the occupation.
“Palestinian women have always been resisters,” she added.
The difficult conditions, attacks, violations, and forced migrations they face forced her to be a resister, said al-Kurd.
According to al-Kurd, Palestinian women showed the world how they fought for freedom in Sheikh Jarrah, Jerusalem, and Palestine. “My grandmother was deported from Haifa in 1948. She taught me the meaning of struggle and resistance.”
She added that she “inherited” her resistance from her grandmother.
She added that every Palestinian woman is almost a teacher and a symbol of resistance and struggle.
This is a struggle for existence
Asale Kasim Abu Hasna, a Palestinian activist and optician intern who faces the threat of deportation, said that Palestinian women have to continue their struggle.
“Because here we need everyone to stand against the occupation,” she said. “Not only Palestinian women, but all women have strength and power. And they can be instrumental in change with their presence and words.”
Calling resisting the occupation a struggle for existence that she inherited from her mother, she thanked all the people who support them and those who stand in solidarity with them.
“Not only us, but all Palestinians are experiencing the same thing here. We have been going through the same process since the Nakba,” she said, referring to the Great Catastrophe of 1948, when Zionist armed groups displaced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and declared the State of Israel.
“The year is 2021 and we’re facing deportation again,” she added.
Women’s graffiti event at Sheikh Jarrah
The walls of Palestinian homes in Sheikh Jarrah, who are facing Israel’s threat of evacuation, are decorated with graffiti.
Dozens of women at a graffiti event drew the Palestinian flag, map of Palestine, and various pictures on the walls.
Israel has pounded the Gaza Strip in airstrikes since May 10, killing at least 181 Palestinians, including 31 women and 52 children, as well as injuring 1,225 more people.
Tensions spread from East Jerusalem to Gaza after Palestinian resistance groups there vowed to retaliate against recent Israeli assaults on the Al-Aqsa Mosque and Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood if they were not halted.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, where Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognized by the international community.
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