Middle East - Palestinian Society: Staying Alive

The lives of more than three and a half million Palestinians under occupation by Israel are largely obscured from view. A hurried image on television of people scurrying past soldiers and armour to gather the essentials of daily existence perhaps. The reality is even more grim – a society in danger of bursting at the seams.

The World Today Published 1 February 2003 Updated 21 October 2020 5 minute READ

Charmaine Seitz

Journalist and managing editor of Palestine Report

Um Khalil has chronic headaches. Her tooth needs filling, but that will have to wait. Her two adolescent boys changed school this year, and she is squirreling away pennies for cold winter days when they will need to take a taxi to its distant location.

She is glad her husband has finally found work, but who knows how long that will last. He’s not known for holding down jobs.

Four months ago, the landlord visited. He gave the family one week to come up with the nine months of rent they owed. When the deadline came, there were young men from the neighbourhood there to ‘persuade’ him to back off. Just in case, Um Khalil has made friends
with the neighbour, who happens to be the landlord’s son.

This is how Um Khalil copes, managing from day to day to escape the spectres of hunger and homelessness. Daily, she stitches together the semblance of a manageable life.

But when do those fragile seams burst?

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