It took just 16 minutes to learn what it means to be an American Muslim visiting Jerusalem

Safa Hawash and her mother during her Spring Break vacation in Jerusalem, taking a picture in front of Al-Aqsa Mosque in April 2019 [Safa Hawash/Twitter]

By Safa Hawash

As my older sister was holding onto her American passport for protection and being handcuffed by an Israeli female soldier, six words were uttered by her assailant which told her that the navy blue document wasn’t going to do her any good: “I don’t care about your ID.”

The soldier’s words speak volumes about what it means to be an American of Muslim or Arab heritage visiting Jerusalem today. It took us just 16 minutes to fully comprehend the situation.

For the first time, my family and I visited Jerusalem as American tourists during a spring break. A trip to Jerusalem, home to the third holiest site in Islam, was supposed to be spiritually nurturing, but within those 16 minutes, it turned into anything but. In fact, it was enlightening, but for a completely different reason.

My mother, sister and I had just finished praying when we stepped out of Al-Aqsa Mosque to take some photos. It was then that we heard yelling followed by shots being fired. We turned around to see Israeli soldiers running from all directions, firing into thin air, with no discernible target.

READ: ‘I don’t care about your ID’: US student assaulted by Israel soldiers at Al-Aqsa

At that moment, I understood the notion of Palestinian identity, a concept that I had made myself familiar with on paper for many research projects at school. I had seen with my own eyes the catalyst that led the Palestinians to stand at the vanguard of their own revolution, transforming themselves into the symbol of defiance to impermanence. It didn’t just stop there, though. Within seconds, the number of Israeli troops multiplied from dozens to almost 100 raiding every corner of the mosque courtyard.

The soldiers entered the Dome of the Rock Mosque forcefully and with their shoes on, evacuating tourists and worshippers violently. At this point, we could hear women and children screaming followed by banging on doors; it was like a scene from a horror movie.

It became evident that the Israeli army did not care that innocent children were crying, unaware of what was happening. The soldiers did not care about the elderly women who were unable to walk on their own, let alone run to safety. They did not care about anything that we might believe constitute human values.

My sister and I, along with the crowd outside, stood with our phones in hand, documenting what we all knew would never be reported accurately on mainstream media. Our cameras became our weapons that reduced us in Israeli eyes to what they perceive to be radical, provocative Palestinians.

As our phone cameras rolled, we were repeatedly pushed and shoved back. To stay safe, we complied. We stepped back and watched events unfold. It was then that my sister rushed to the help of an elderly woman being manhandled aggressively by soldiers. She was faced with a group of soldiers who immediately thrust her to the ground and handcuffed her, tossing to the side the American passport that she was holding as she told them, “Don’t touch me.”

READ: Israel starts new museum project near ‘Wailing’ Wall

This was the reality that we faced as American Muslim women in Jerusalem. The Israeli army is not alone in not caring about your ID; nor does our current administration back in Washington. All that officials care about is what you look like, and whether or not you fit into the mold of the white, all-American characters we see on television; characters who represent neither us nor the rest of multicultural, multiracial USA.

Safa Hawash@safahawash · 13 Apr 2019Replying to @safahawash

We planned to catch Duhur prayer, snap the pictures, and rush to make it to the bus to Ramallah. After Duhur prayer, at 1:18 PM, I took the second picture of Nour & my mom. My mom made a comment about how today was by far the most beautiful of all the days we had spent so far.

View image on Twitter

Safa Hawash@safahawash 

Just one minute later, in a blink of an eye, at 1:19 PM, the third video happened. pic.twitter.com/d6mkvzykpu02:43 – 13 Apr 2019Twitter Ads information and privacy

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The soldiers did the same thing to my mother who was holding onto my sister. I looked on in horror and attempted to help but I was spat on, pushed away and kicked repeatedly to the ground. I looked up at a blurred image of unknown hands as local men and women carried me away to prevent further harm and escalation. “There’s not much you can do right now,” they told me. “Stay back.” I did.

Then a soldier appeared, an officer perhaps, and picked up my sister’s passport before untying the handcuffs on her and my mom and giving the “golden ticket” back. For all he knew, he had successfully taught us a lesson without arresting us. He played his game right.

“Why did your sister pull out her passport immediately to shield herself from the dozens of armed soldiers surrounding her?” you may well ask. It’s fairly simple. Our government in the US — our government — continues to support and turn a blind eye to an Israeli government that treats Palestinians, people of Arab or Muslim heritage, including Americans, as second-class citizens, using, as we endured, physical aggression to enforce the brutal military occupation.

Every year, $3.8 billion of our tax money is being used to oppress us and many others. We were beaten, kicked, shackled and spat on in the name of America. My sister pulled out her passport under the false impression that it would bring her justice. The value given to nationality in this day and age is reflective of the Trump administration’s will to do anything for the sake of preserving political and financial relations. The only thing that our nationality did give us was the privilege of returning and sharing our story. Yet we were just three people among thousands of local Palestinians enduring such disgusting treatment on a daily basis with no way out and little to no recognition of their rights.

Our day in Al-Aqsa had started at 11:46 am; we finished prayer and stood taking photos at 1:18 pm. One minute later, our peaceful morning was shattered by the excessively violent efforts to strip Palestinians of their right to exist. Sixteen minutes later, by 1:35 pm, we had seen with our own eyes what defines an eternity for Palestinians. Our 16 minutes came to an end. We returned to our home, but they aren’t allowed to exercise their legitimate right of return to their homes in what is now called Israel.

It took us just 16 minutes to understand what it means to be an American Muslim visiting Jerusalem; 16 minutes to learn that “I don’t care about your ID” isn’t a statement unique to our experience; 16 minutes to grasp that such a comment is a notion fostered by our very own President towards Muslim-Americans and people of colour; just 16 minutes to become part of a historical process of deep-seated, incessant Othering.

READ: Israel funded app destroys Al-Aqsa Mosque, builds temple in its place

(Source / 24.04.2019) 

Israel Continues Holding Palestinian Detainee In Solitary Confinement Since March 2017

23 APR11:58 PM

The Palestinian Commission for Detainees’ Affairs has reported, Tuesday, that a Palestinian detainee, identified as Mohammad Yousef Shinnawi, 23, from Haifa, has been held by Israel in solitary confinement since March of 2017.

The Commission stated that the detainee is facing very difficult conditions in solitary confinement section 12 in Majeddo prison, after the Prison Authority decided that he “poses a threat to Israel’s security.”

The detainee was abducted in January of 2017 and was sentenced, in October of 2018, to a life term and twenty years in prison, after the court convicted him of killing one Israeli and wounding another in two separate incidents, in Haifa.

Only two months after his arrest, the detainee received a solitary confinement order for six months, but the order has since been constantly renewed.

The current solitary confinement order against him is set to expire in September of this year and will likely be renewed yet again.

(Source / 24.04.2019) 

Army Injures 27 Palestinians, Including A New Born Baby, In Nablus

24 APR9:36 AM

Israeli soldiers invaded, on Wednesday at dawn, the eastern area of Nablus city, after accompanying dozens of illegal colonialist settlers into Joseph’s Tomb, and fired at Palestinian protesters, wounding at least 27, including a new born baby.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) in Nablus said its medics provided treatment to seven Palestinians, who were shot with rubber-coated steel bullets, including two who were shot in the head, before they were rushed to Rafidia governmental hospital.

It also said that at least fourteen Palestinian, including baby, only two months of age, suffered the effects of teargas inhalation, when the army fire a barrage of gas bombs at protesters, as well as several surrounding home.

The baby was rushed to Rafidia hospital after asphyxiating due to gas inhalation, and was instantly provided with the urgently needed medical attention.

Many Palestinians suffered various cuts and bruises, and received the needed treatment.

Media sources in Nablus said dozens of buses, filled with colonialist settlers, and accompanied by many army jeeps, invaded the eastern area of the city, and headed towards “Joseph’s Tomb.”

The WAFA Palestinian News Agency said at least 15000 colonialist settlers, accompanied by members of Knesset of the Likud Party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, participated in the invasion,  including Yossi Dagan, the head of “Settlements Council” in northern West Bank.

It is worth mentioning that the Palestinians believe Joseph’s Tomb to be the funerary monument to Sheikh Yousef Dweikat, a local religious figure. Others believe that the tomb belongs to the Biblical patriarch Joseph revered by Jews, Samaritans, Christians and Muslims alike.

(Source / 24.04.2019) 

Palestinian Man Dies During Israeli Police Chase

24 APR6:05 AM

A young Palestinian man died Tuesday morning, in the Arab town of Arrabat al-Bottuf, in northern Israel, after the Israeli police chased him, Palestinian sources have reported.

Mohammad Majd Kamil, 22, from the town of Qabatia, south of the northern West Bank city of Jenin, was pronounced dead after falling from a considerable height while Israeli police officers were chasing him.

The young man worked in Israel, as a laborer, and apparently did not carry a work or entry permit.

According to WAFA News, hundreds of Palestinians work illegally in Israel, until Israeli police chase, detain and deport them back to the occupied West Bank.

Palestinians in the occupied West Bank face an unemployment rate of 18-19% according to the World Bank, while in Israel, more jobs are available, with better wages.

(Source / 24.04.2019) 

Health Ministry: “Child Killed In Accidental Explosion In Gaza”

24 APR4:57 AM

The Palestinian Health Ministry in the besieged Gaza Strip has reported, on Tuesday evening, that a child was killed in an “accidental explosion” in central Gaza Strip.

The Health Ministry identified the child as Mohannad Amin al-Baz, 13 years of age.

There has been no detailed information regarding the child’s death, but the short statement by the just said he was accidentally killed in his home in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza Strip.

However, the Quds News Network, the child was accidentally killed when an explosive charge, “he was messing with detonated.”

(Source / 24.04.2019) 

IOF Blasts House Of Martyr Omar Abu Laila

Days Of Palestine [ Salfit ] – The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) on Wednesday morning detonated the family house of martyr Omar Abul Laila in az-Zawiya town, west of Salfit, causing widespread damage to nearby homes.

According to local sources, Israeli troops and two military bulldozers stormed az-Zawiya town at 10:30 pm on Tuesday, spread through its streets and announced the town a closed military zone.

Then, soldiers stormed the house of martyr Abu Laila and embarked on destroying parts of its interior walls and placed explosives inside them before blowing it up at six o’clock on Wednesday morning.

The IOF also forced dozens of citizens along with children and women to leave nearby homes and fired volleys of stun and tear gas grenades at angry citizens and journalists as they were documenting the events in the town.

Eyewitnesses affirmed that about 50 families were forced to stay outdoors during the demolition and detonation of the house.

Meanwhile, violent clashes broke out between the IOF and local young men and lasted for over seven hours.

On March 17, 2019, martyr Abu Laila managed to shot dead two Israeli settlers, including a soldier, on a road near an illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank.

(Source / 24.04.2019) 

Dozens Of Extremist Settlers Defile Al-Aqsa Mosque

Days Of Palestine [ Occupied Juersalem ] – Hordes of Israeli settlers on Wednesday broke into al-Aqsa Mosque in Occupied Jerusalem amid heavy presence of police officers.

The Islamic Awqaf said that 276 settlers stormed al-Aqsa Mosque compound and carried out provocative tours on the fourth day of Passover holiday.

Meanwhile, the Israeli police have tightened the restrictions imposed on the Old City of Jerusalem in general and the Muslim worshipers entering al-Aqsa Mosque in particular.

Israeli settlers carry out daily break-ins into al-Aqsa Mosque, except on Fridays and Saturdays, in two rounds: one in the morning and the other in the afternoon.

(Source / 24.04.2019) 

Israeli Court Rules To Evict Settlers From Palestinian-Owned Home

An Israeli court ordered the eviction of Israeli settlers from a Palestinian-owned home that they held illegally since 2005 in Hebron City, in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron, on Monday.

Hebrew-language news outlets reported that the Jerusalem Magistrate Court rejected claims by Israeli settlers, stating that given their “long occupation” of the property and their investments to improve it, the home should remain theirs. 

The court rejected the claims and ordered the Israeli settlers to pay the Palestinian family 580,000 shekels ($161,000) as compensation for the years it was held illegally by the settlers.

The legal owners, the Bakri family, were represented by attorney, Samer Shehadeh, who confirmed that the Israeli settlers were appealing the court ruling.

The home is located in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood, in the center of Hebron City, and sits on 0.75 acres of land.
Palestinian residents in Hebron said that Tal Construction & Investments LTD., the company which bought the home based on forged documents, is registered as a Jordanian company, however, is operated by Israeli settlers who aim to promote illegal settlements across the occupied West Bank.

Tal Construction bought the Hebron home in 2005 from Hani al-Batash, who claimed to have legal rights over the property, for $300,000 and handed it over to Israeli families.

Nevertheless, Israeli police launched an investigation into the issue and determined that the documents used during the transaction were forged and that al-Batash was not the legal owner of the property.

The area of Tel Rumeida has long been a flash-point for tensions between Palestinians and Israeli settlers and military, as it is located near illegal Israeli settlements whose residents are notoriously aggressive toward Palestinians.

Tel Rumeida is located within the area of the city designated as H2, an area taking over the bulk of Hebron’s Old City that is under full Israeli military control, and the site of five illegal Israeli settlements which continually expand into surrounding Palestinian neighborhoods.

The Israeli-controlled H2 area is home to 30,000 Palestinians and around 800 Israeli settlers who live under the protection of Israeli forces.

Some 800 notoriously aggressive Israeli settlers now live under the protection of the Israeli military in the Old City of Hebron, surrounded by more than 30,000 Palestinians.

(Source / 23.04.2019)

Medical supplies sent by Miles of Smiles to enter Gaza soon

Miles for Smiles 34 convoy arrives in the besieged Gaza Strip in an effort to distribute aid on 5 June 2018

Head of Miles of Smiles Delegations Dr Essam Yousef announced yesterday that a shipment of medicines and medical supplies will enter the besieged Gaza Strip soon.

In a press release sent to MEMO, Yousef said that this shipment is worth $100 million and is funded by the Indonesian National Committee for Palestinians (KNRP).

“Thanks to KNRP for their generous donations of $100,000 and thanks to others and each participant,” Yousef said.

READ: New Miles of Smiles convoy heading for Gaza next month

He noted that the second shipment of medical supplies is “to follow shortly”, calling for the people who pledged to fund it to “kindly confirm” their contributions in order to pay for the shipment.

This came after an appeal for donations launched by Miles of Smiles in order to buy urgently needed medical supplies and equipment for besieged Gaza, including wheelchairs, which are in urgent need following Israel’s brutal crackdown on peaceful protest along the Gaza-Israel border fence over the past year.

(Source / 23.04.2019) 

Boycotting Israel, PA to send patients to hospitals in Jordan, Egypt

Some of eighteen Palestinians injured during Israel’s weeks-long onslaught on the Gaza Strip are received medical treatment by Turkish Health Ministry medical rescue workers at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv before Turkish military plane airlift the wounded Palestinians to hospitals in Turkey on 13 August 2014 

Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said yesterday that his government had sent delegations to Jordan and Egypt in order to prepare for transferring patients to hospitals abroad, Arab48 reported.

This measure, according to Shtayyeh, is part of his government’s efforts to find alternatives to Israeli hospitals as a result of Israel’s deduction of Palestinian taxes collected on behalf of the PA.

Speaking to Anadolu, the spokesman of the Ministry of Health Osama Al-Najjar said: “The decision is political and it was taken by the Palestinian leadership. It comes in to effect now.”

READ: Israel rejects France’s request to repay Palestine tax revenues

He noted that the annual cost of treating patients in Israeli hospitals is $100 million.

Al-Najjar said that the Palestinian Ministry of Health will transferring patients only to Palestinian hospitals in occupied Jerusalem or to medical centres in Jordan and Egypt.

Israel deducted $138 million from the PA’s tax revenues over claims that this amount is paid to Palestinians prisoners and the families of Palestinians killed by Israeli occupation forces. As a result, the PA has refused to accept any funds from Israel, saying all the funds owed to it should be transferred without deductions.

(Source / 23.04.2019)