Photo credit: Mohammed Salem
Date taken: August 2, 2014
Location: Gaza City, Gaza Strip, Palestine
A Palestinian woman prepares food on the floor inside a classroom at a United Nations-run school in Gaza City. She fled her home to escape intense Israeli military strikes on neighborhoods throughout the Gaza Strip. She is among roughly 500,000 displaced Palestinians who have had to seek shelter in United Nations-run schools, hospitals, or other public buildings as a result of the bombardment.
Resiliency in Palestine comes in all forms, shapes, and sizes. Typically, the examples of resiliency that grab our attention are the complex ones, the coordinated efforts to rebuild demolished homes, for example, or the brave locals forcing an Israeli military patrol out of their town. The simple kinds of resiliency are oftentimes the more sullen ones.
The singularity of the above photograph can be taken to represent so many things — from the singularity of the Gaza Strip, with much of the world playing deaf to its struggles and much of the Middle East bowing itself to Israel’s regional control, to the singularity of Palestinian bravery, which is considered worldwide to be an iconic symbol of resistance. But mostly, her singularity represents her own personal struggles. The potato she shaves is as tough as any other. The bright pink of her hijab is not muted by her current status as an internally displaced refugee. Though she is still far from the comfort of her home and the tall walls meant to protect her, she lives on. Peeling a potato is no longer a menial task. It is a simple albeit wildly expressive form of resilience. It’s something Israel couldn’t take away.