Palestinian breadwinners struggle under occupation


Nine years ago, Fatima Atallah, 38, found herself the sole breadwinner of her family after her husband was arrested by Israeli forces and sentenced to life in prison.

A mother of two, the young Palestinian woman found no other way but to take up the task of providing the financial needs of her children.

“My son was still three years old and our daughter was almost one year when my husband was arrested,” Fatima recalled in an interview with Anadolu Agency.

After her husband’s arrest, Fatima began to work in two jobs to provide the daily-life needs of her young kids.

She works in a small company in the northern West Bank city of Nablus in addition to running a small business of embroidery.

Although she receives monthly allocations from the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, the amount is not sufficient for her family’s needs.

According to official figures, the Palestinian Authority allocates around $400 to each family that has a prisoner in Israeli jails.

“We have deprived ourselves from many things and have been suffering a lot of financial problems because of my husband’s absence,” Fatima said.

“I always feel that my children feel inferior and are sad because their father is not with them like other children,” she added.

“It is extremely depressing that I can’t provide them with all what they need,” Fatima laments.

“I get a tiny income and it is spent on education and the basic needs of life.”

Recently, the Palestinian mother has managed to market her products through local associations, hoping that this will help improve the living conditions of her family.


Salma Zidan, 42, is also responsible for her family since her husband was arrested in 2002 and jailed for 37 years in Israel.

“For the past 17 years, I have been the breadwinner of my family,” Salma told Anadolu Agency.

Her child Karam was only three-year-old when the husband was arrested.

“Now, my son is 20 and studying medicine,” the Palestinian mother proudly said.

“For 17 years, I have been the mother and the father for my son,” she said. “I have worked hard to raise and educate him by myself and without my husband’s support.”

Salma runs a shop with a group of women to make and sell natural Palestinian soup made of olive oil.

“This project has helped provide work for five women to help them support their families,” she said.

According to Palestinian figures, some 5,700 Palestinians continue to languish in Israeli detention facilities, including scores of women and hundreds of minors.

Israeli violations

Qadura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoner Society, an NGO, said the Israeli arrest of husbands leaves Palestinian families in endless suffering.

“Most of them are deprived of their most basic rights,” he told Anadolu Agency.

“Thousands of Palestinian children lived without a father or mother because of the Israeli arrests,” he said.

Fares warned that the arrests of husbands has a terrible impact on the Palestinian society in general and on families of the prisoners in particular.

“In many cases, Israel denies family visits to many Palestinian prisoners, which runs counter to the responsibilities and duties of the occupying power under international law,” he said.

He went on to call on the international community to intervene to “end Israel’s continuous violation of the rights of Palestinian prisoners and their families”.

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