Hebron: Where Picking Akkoub is a crime.  

On a breezy morning in March, Issa, an 11 years old boy, woke up craving Akkoub, also known as Gundelia. He went up to his mom, “Mama, can we have Akkoub for lunch today?”. She replied, “but we don’t have any”. Issa said, “I can go with my friends Basel, Ali, Zaid and Yahya to pick you some, can they have lunch with us too?”. She replied with a smile on her face “Of course they can habibi, go dress up, have breakfast and then you can go out”. 

Issa and his friends went to the market to get some snacks for their hike. They walked to the hills, not far away from their houses. They were ecstatic because they found plenty of Akkoub. They started picking them and putting them in the plastic bags they just got from the market. Basel looked at one and said “wow, how do our mothers have the patience to clean this thing?” they all laughed, and Ali said, “it’s worth it; with plenty of olive oil, it tastes like heaven”. 

Out of nowhere, a unit of the Israeli army showed up with their rifles, yelling at the children “Eish bitsawwou” meaning, “What are you doing?!”. The children were confused and showed the soldiers the Akkoub they picked. The soldiers started talking to each other in Hebrew, handcuffed the children and shoved them into their military Jeep. Ismail, a farmer, came to talk to the soldiers, but there was no space for talking. He felt helpless as he was facing an occupying army. All he could do was to document the aggression and call the children’s parents.

Bethlehem: Where Rahma was Scared to Death.

On a stormy night in February with Umm Kulthum’s Enta Omry playing in the background, Rahma, a 67-year-old lady, was in her brother’s house drinking her warm sage tea, knitting a sweater for their neighbor’s newborn child. Suddenly, her peace was shattered by an Israeli unit breaking the front door, with anger in their eyes and their rifles ready to shoot. They inspected the house; breaking glass, destroying furniture and creating a mess. Rahma was frightened and lost her consciousness and had a cardiac arrest. Her body arrived at the hospital as a corpse.

Sheikh Jarrah: Where Your House Isn’t Yours.

It was 4 a.m. Al-Ghawi family were sleeping after a very tiring day filled with laughter, family, love and Maqluba. Walking in the house, you will see memories of four generations engraved in each and every corner. Suddenly, serenity was disrupted and soldiers broke into the house, handcuffing the children before the adults. The entire house with its 28 residents was evicted in 30 minutes. Al-Ghawi family was left homeless as they were forced to leave their house so that the settlers could move in. The house was taken as it was, with its furniture, souvenirs and the tuna cans in the kitchen cupboard. With nowhere else to go, Al-Ghawi family took shelter under the fig tree in front of their house. In the following hours, the IDF came and confiscated everything they had in the tent as it was disturbing the new “residents”. 

For the past 11 years, Mariam Al-Ghawi has been going, every single day, to sit on a chair in front of her house that was taken from her; in hopes that one day she will return to it. Nowadays, with Israel’s aims of increasing the Jewish population in Eastern Jerusalem, many families in Sheikh Jarrah are facing the same future of dispossession and displacement. 

Gaza: Where Love dies and Grief Lives.

After a love story that lasted for almost 3 years, Anas was excited to see his fiancée, Shaima, in the white dress. He was looking forward to the day he walks down the aisle with her as her husband and life companion. They were planning their wedding for the past few months now. They had booked the venue, prepared the food menu, prepared the cards and chose the flowers for her bouquet. Anas was texting Shaima while the missiles were flying in the sky. Shaima texted Anas “I’m scared, there’s bombing near us”. He replied “take shelter somewhere safe”, but Shaima never received the message. Anas went to the affected area to look for his fiancée, with tears in his eyes and rage in his heart. He was looking for her under the rubble, hoping that she would make it out alive. After a long search, he found her. Dead. Anas kissed his fiancée goodbye as she was dressed in white, in a shroud.

United States of America: When Your Origins are Stronger Than Your Passport

Lara, a Palestinian American student that had been granted a student visa to study at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem was packing her luggage with full excitement; as she was going to study her dream master’s degree in human rights and transitional justice in her home town. She was looking forward to the simplest details; a day where she wakes up early in Jerusalem to take a walk in the old streets and have ka’ek alquds with Falafel for breakfast. She knew that her stay would be short, but she didn’t know that it would be two weeks spent in prison. Lara was arrested upon arrival and interrogated by border control; despite having the student visa and an American passport, she was denied entry due to her previous activism regarding boycotting Sabra Hummus. She took matters to the Israeli court, but lost her case. She appealed, but her appeal was rejected. Later, she was deported to London. 

Even if you are a writer like Susan Abulhawa, or a professor like Prof. Georgy Khoury, or even a congresswoman like Rashida Tlaib; if you are an American with Palestinian origins, humiliation and deportation is what awaits you at Ben Gurion Airport.

Palestinians living in the Westbank, in Israel, in Gaza and in Diaspora are all fighting for the recognition of their basic human rights; the right to childhood, the right of housing, the right to dignity, the right of return, the right to love and the right to live. Don’t let history repeat itself; where silence is prevailing in times of injustice. Speak up, and spread awareness.

#FreePalestine #SaveSheikhJarrah #GazaUnderAttack 

*All stories mentioned above are based on actual events. 


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