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From journalism to parliament then to Israeli jails

Samira Halayka

Samira Halayka

After documenting the suffering of Palestinian prisoners as a journalist for years, and suffering the imprisonment of her closest family members, as well as indulging in solidarity acts with Palestinian prisoners as an MP in the Palestinian parliament, the Israeli occupation forces arrested MP Samira Halayka, marking a new phase of sacrifice and giving in her life, and first-hand experience of what she has always written about.

At the end of International Women’s Day, and in the first hours of 9 March 2016, the knocks of Israeli soldiers on the doors of the house of MP Samria Halayka broke the silence of the night and the calmness of the house inhabited by the Hamas MP in the town of al-Shuyukh in al-Khalil, to the south of the West Bank, before storming it, interrogating and searching her, confiscating her cell-phone and personal computer and arresting her.

From Journalism to PLC
After working as a journalist, Samria Halayka, 53, ran for legislative elections in January 2006, representing the city of al-Khalil, and won a seat at the Palestinian Legislative Council, representing the Change and Reform Bloc affiliated with Hamas.

Before being elected to the PLC, Halayka had worked in several jobs, such as a consultant for health education at al-Shuyukh Charitable Society, an employee with the Charitable Society from 1983 to 1987, and then enrolled as a student at al-Rahma College for Girls, graduating with a degree in Islamic Shariaa in 1993. After graduation, she worked as a teacher at al-Hanan private school for one year. She then quit teaching to work as a journalist to document the crimes of the occupation and to defend national issues.

Journalism career
Halayka started her journalism career at al-Risalah newspaper, working for it since it was established in 1996; a job that lasted for 11 years. During that period, she also worked as a reporter for various other newspapers, magazines and online news sites, most importantly the Filisteen al-Muslema magazine, and the Palestinian Information Center.

MP Halayka left a clear fingerprint in various fields on the social and humanitarian levels and during her solidarity with prisoners and their families. Furthermore, she was involved in supporting women’s issues and various cultural, public awareness and national occasions.

Working as a bee
The family of MP Halayka describes her as the sun that spreads light and warmth. Her family members remember her as a symbol for giving, as she “is always giving, gives and never takes, with a big heart. She gives even during difficult times. Her smile is healing and her passion is a refuge from the tough reality.”

MP Halayka is married to Sheikh Mohammed Zaytoun Halayka who works at the Department of Religious Affairs and Waqf in al-Khalil. They have 7 children, two boys (Osama and Anas) and five girls (Itisam, Ithar, Abrar, Asila and Ibtihal). All of them are married except for their youngest child Ibtihal, 10.

One of her sons told the PIC, “Our mother is like the hard-working bee that never forgets to carry out her duties. She never missed the morning coffee or the housework. She begins her day by performing the Dawn Prayer then reads and watches the latest news, then she carries out her housework and takes care of her house and family.”

By sunrise, she takes her coffee and sits on her desk, beginning her day with a joke or a wise saying. Her morning is never without positive energy, beauty, activism, and hard work.

Abu Anas, her husband, told the PIC, “She does not know laziness. Impossible is out of her dictionary. Despite the fact that she is an MP, she never missed doing her duties as a wife and a mother. She is a humble, rural lady who sticks to her tradition regardless of time and situation. She belongs to Halayka family, the biggest Palestinian family in the town of al-Shuyukh, to the north-east of Hebron, the town of green caps, which goes back to the Sufi tradition of the founders of the town.”

Co-existing with hardships
Palestinian writer Lama Khater wrote about the arrest of MP Halayka, “May Allah release our dear sister Um Anas, Palestinian PLC member Samira Halayka. I was saddened and surprised by the news of her arrest, yet hardship is not new to her, as she has gone through various forms of hardships and difficulties and she was always patient.” Khater mentioned the arrest of Halayka’s husband and kids and torturing them at the hands of the Israeli occupation and the PA, the same as what happened to many others of her own family members.

The Palestinian MP was not immune to the assaults of the Israeli occupation and that of the PA. She has documented 16 assaults against her and her office and employees assisting her, between June 2007 and October 2016, by the security forces of the Palestinian Authority, including assaulting her kids and husband.

The Palestinian Authority’s security forces have arrested her husband, Mohammed Halayka four times, while it arrested her son Anas, 27, twice, and her son Osama, 24, once; other than the arrests made by the Israeli occupation.

(Source / 12.03.2017)


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