Palestinian women: Vanguard of resistance against Israeli occupation

Mariam Mecky , Saturday 17 Oct 2015

With the ongoing uprising in the occupied Palestinian territories, Palestinian women are once again on the front lines

Palestinian woman
A Palestinian woman uses a slingshot to hurl stones at Israeli occupation troops in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem, October 14, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

Powerful images of Palestinian women masking their faces with the traditional keffiyeh and marching in the streets, schoolgirls throwing stones at occupation forces, and female citizens arguing and tussling with Israeli forces have been going viral.

"With the Israeli atrocities and human rights violations against us, we as Palestinian women have no other choice but to resist and refuse the colonisation, occupation and humiliation, and participate in all resistance activities, whether violent or non-violent, side by side with men on the front lines," a Palestinian woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Ahram Online.

A picture of Palestinian women fixing their traditional keffiyeh during the clashes with Israeli occupation army near Beit Eil checkpoint, on 9th of October. (Photo Courtesy of Fadi Arouri)

A wave of repressive Israeli measures against Palestinian protesters have left more than 30 Palestinians, including a pregnant woman and her daughter dead, and more than 1,000 injured.

Israeli occupation forces have been using both live and rubber-coated steel bullets against demonstrators and at checkpoints in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1 October.

Palestinian women
Palestinian women trying to run away as Israeli occupation police throw a stun grenade in Jerusalem's Old City September 13, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

"Palestinian women have always participated in the resistance, as during the first Intifada, but technological developments and social media have shed more light on their role," adds the Gaza-based woman.

Women have played a key role in resistance in the first and second Intifadas — 1987 and 2000 respectively — as they have provided first aid, participated in protests and even undertaken militant operations.

Joe Catron, a BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) activist, said that “Palestinian women share a national consensus, for liberation and return, with men."

"They face the same Israeli violence — ranging from daily control on their movement to periodic shootings, burnings, and outright massacres — as their male counterparts,” Catron continues.

Israel began setting up checkpoints in Palestinian areas of occupied East Jerusalem on Wednesday, struggling to stop a wave of Palestinian protests. The rising tide of unrest has led many to anticipate a full-scale third Palestinian uprising, or Intifada, erupting.

"We make up half of society. We also have the right to defend our country," a female Palestinian student told AFP during a face-off with the Israeli army at a checkpoint outside the city of Ramallah.

Palestinian woman throwing a stone
A Palestinian girl uses a slingshot to throw stones to defend her colleagues during an Israeli troops attack in the occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem October 14, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

On Sunday, the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) slammed Israel’s unlawful use of force in the occupied Palestinian territories after a HRW staff member was among seven others shot and wounded during a peaceful demonstration in the West Bank.

Palestinians have been protesting for weeks against Israel's attempts to build more settlements in East Jerusalem and force out Arab residents of the city, is to be the capital in any future Palestinian state.

Palestinians have also been protesting against repeated Israeli and Jewish settler attacks on Al-Aqsa Mosque and the closing of the Muslim holy site on a number of occasions to worshippers.

Palestinian women
Palestinian women chant slogans during a protest against Israeli closure of the compound which houses Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem's old city, Sunday, September 13, 2015. (Photo: AP)

The unrest started in late July when an 18-month-old toddler, Ali Saad Dawabsha, was burned to death and three other Palestinians severely injured after their house in the occupied West Bank was set on fire by Israeli settlers. The attack led to the death of the toddler’s parents and brother, after suffering serious injuries in the incident.

Gaza has been the site of three Israeli aerial and ground offensives since 2008. Last summer alone, Israel’s 51-day assault on Gaza killed over 2,200 people and left more than 12,000 others injured. More than 100,000 people were displaced.

“Women have always resisted the occupation from the front line and continue to do so. But this uprising has more roles for participants to fill, regardless of gender, than the first and second Intifadas,” Catron concludes.

Palestinian woman
A Palestinian woman waves a Palestinian flag in front of Israeli occupation border policemen during a protest against land confiscation by Israel in the occupied West Bank city of Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, September 13, 2015. (Photo: Reuters)

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