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)