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ACTION • Visualizing Stories of Palestinian Women

Locatie

The Arabic Education Institute organizes an urban exhibition in Hebron, so that Palestinian women can express the violence of the colonial Israeli occupation.

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The Arabic Education Institute (AEI) organizes an urban exhibition in downtown Hebron, in order to let Palestinian women express the violence of the colonial Israeli occupation.

Action

Since the 1970s, the Palestinian town of al-Khalil, known as Hebron, has become the blatant example of Israel’s colonization policy. A group of extremist Jews moved into the center of the city where they have since refused to leave. There are about 500 to 1000 settlers in the center, where about 40,000 Palestinians live. In addition, other Israeli settlements soon sprang up around the city, effectively sealing it off from the rest of the Jordan Bank.

What happened next, was the all too familiar cycle of dispossession. Under the pretext of protecting a few hundred civilians, the Israeli army sent thousands of soldiers to Hebron and divided the city into segregated zones. For Palestinians, this meant many checkpoints, random searches, detentions and arrests that continue to this day. To make matters worse, Israeli authorities responded to a series of attacks by Palestinians in 2015 with house evictions accompanied by construction projects, allowing more settlers to move to Hebron and slowly take over the city.

What happened next, was the all too familiar cycle of dispossession.

Since then, Hebron has been a symbol of the apartheid regime in the West Bank. Your ethnic background determines where, when and how much you can move around the city. There is no rule of law: as of 2015, the city has been declared a closed military zone. As a result, the army operates with impunity.

Women of Hebron

AEI, an NGO that accompanies Muslim and Christian pilgrims in al-Khalil, wants to draw attention to the colonial violence that Palestinian women have to endure under the occupation. With support from Het Actiefonds, the organization collects stories from women that they display on posters near checkpoints downtown. They take pictures of these stories and post them on social media, hoping that people around the world can read about what the women of al-Khalil are going through and thus put pressure on the Israeli government.

These women attest of the gender based violence committed under the name of security.

These women attest of the gender based violence committed under the name of security. Consider the humiliation they must endure at checkpoints, where they are scolded or forced to remove their clothes. In addition, about ten percent of Palestinian women give birth at checkpoints. Also, many pregnancies suffer from the inhalation of tear gas, which is regularly fired by the Israeli army.

With this project, AEI wants to give these women a chance to tell their own story, which is not obvious in this socially conservative zone of the West Bank. In this way, they hope to raise awareness among both residents of al-Khalil and the international community about the colonial and sexist violence of the Israeli occupation.

Image: ISM Palestine on Flickr.com