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'Targeted as a Palestinian and a Woman': Israel’s Gendered Intimidation Campaign

17 542 210
25.06.2021

When Israelis and Palestinians talk about peace, they often speak past one another.

For Israeli Jews, peace means an absence of external threats, from rockets or a widespread Palestinian uprising; for Palestinians, peace means a transformation of society to secure equal rights and resources.

Regardless of flare-ups in Gaza or civil unrest, or during extended periods of what Israelis call "quiet," Palestinians remain unsafe. Their lack of safety is by design, a feature of the system, not a bug. The recent ceasefire and the restoration of a fragile calm in Israel’s mixed cities offers them no respite.

The story of one Palestinian woman from Jerusalem illustrates what living in this kind of fear is like, and how it can have a particularly gendered expression.

Born and raised in East Jerusalem, Hiba (a pseudonym she requested for her own safety) has lived her whole life without political representation, neither in the Israeli nor the Palestinian Authority legislatures. This is the particular predicament of Palestinian East Jerusalemites, most of whom lack Israeli citizenship yet cannot vote in PA elections, if there ever is another one.

Israel formally annexed East Jerusalem in 1980, but the city remains divided.

Officially, East Jerusalem Palestinians may apply for Israeli citizenship, but they face deliberate impediments in the form of significant administrative hurdles.

East Jerusalemites – who constitute 35 percent of the city’s population – can vote in municipal elections, but in practice, exercising even this local franchise is often logistically complicated. Potential voters also face peer pressure from neighbors who oppose voting as the legitimization of a hostile regime. Palestinians live under surveillance, both from high-tech and conventionally armed patrols, and are regularly harassed, inconvenienced, humiliated, and under-served in terms of public services. And lack of representation means a lack of advocacy and security.

Hiba holds a BA in journalism from The Hebrew University and recently completed an MA in Oriental and African Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London. But it’s the topic of her thesis – the kidnapping and murder of her cousin and neighbor Mohammed Abu Khdeir – that demonstrates how fundamentally unsafe life is for her community. In 2014, 16-year-old Mohammed was abducted right outside his house by religious Jewish nationalist terrorists, beaten and then burned alive.

Hiba can testify as to how gender and ethnicity combine to make Palestinian women........

© Haaretz


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