The Palestinian Outfit

How much thought do you put into your outfit every day? Palestinians must figure out how to look good and appease the security apparatus
a black and white image of several Palestinians gathering outside the Bab al Zawiyeh checkpoint, one child has a bicycle with him. Text overlay reads, "The Palestinian Outift"

Palestinians put a lot of thought into what they wear. Unfortunately, it’s not in preparation for a fashion show or to put together an outfit for a TikTok trend before heading to pray at the mosque. Instead, it’s about understanding what Palestinians must consider when preparing for prayer at the mosque, especially when they are passing through a militarized Israeli occupation checkpoint. 

When I was monitoring the checkpoints during prayers at  Al-Ibrahimi mosque, I reflected on the thought process for Palestinian Muslims when preparing themselves for their trip to the mosque, which includes crossing several checkpoints. I was reminded of the verse from the Holy Quran which says: يَا بَنِي آدَمَ خُذُوا زِينَتَكُمْ عِندَ كُلِّ مَسْجِدٍ Children of Adam! Attend to your embellishments at every time of prayer (Surah Al-A’raf, 7:31), meaning it is preferable to wear the most beautiful clothes when they attend the mosque for prayer. 

Muslims wear their best clothes for Friday prayers, but for Palestinians, the experience is distinct; they must consider not only the verses of the Holy Quran but also practical concerns about their attire. They need to ensure their clothing is free of metals to avoid triggering the metal detectors at checkpoints. A mere beep from the detector could prompt soldiers to conduct invasive searches to determine the source of the sound, potentially causing delays or complications for those passing through. 

One young man, passing through the checkpoints, encountered his friend on the other side who asked why he had taken so long. He explained that he had opted for a tracksuit instead of jeans to avoid the metal detector’s sound. However, despite his precautions, the soldier deliberately set off the alarm, surprising him. The soldier then requested him to pass through the detector twice. Eventually, after a brief laugh, the soldier waved him through with a casual “go, go, yalla.”  

Every day, hundreds of people pass through checkpoints where they must deal with soldiers and metal detectors, as well as technical issues. Malfunctions of the metal detectors are a common problem, where they may beep even if you aren’t wearing any metal. Additionally, encountering a soldier in a bad mood or feeling bored can lead to them playing games. They might see Palestinians passing through the checkpoint as toys, and one way they might play is by repeatedly activating the metal detector, which can be incredibly frustrating and disorienting.  

A significant challenge faced by Palestinian people is being unjustly labelled as potential terrorists, subject to constant suspicion and mistreatment at any moment, even while exercising their basic right to worship. When Palestinians gather to pray in mosques, a sacred act to draw closer to God, they endure inspections and verbal abuse from Israeli occupation soldiers solely because they hold Palestinian identification cards. These green ID cards grant Israeli soldiers the authority to treat them however they wish.

A woman residing in the Tel Rumeidah area encountered a troubling situation on her way back home after a tiring day at work. Upon passing through the checkpoint, she found herself repeatedly triggering the alarm of the metal detector. Initially attributing it to her jeans, she was nonetheless denied passage. In a desperate bid to resolve the issue, she called her daughter to bring a pair of metal-free pants. However, even after changing her pants at the checkpoint, the alarm persisted. It wasn’t until a female soldier conducted a thorough search that it became apparent the source of the alarm was the Palestinian woman’s underwear.

As a Palestinian, selecting clothing goes beyond mere comfort; it’s a strategic consideration shaped by the necessity of navigating through checkpoints imposed by the occupying forces. Even the choice of underwear is not exempt from this deliberation, as every garment must be chosen with an awareness of the challenges one faces at these checkpoints while striving to meet basic needs.  

For over 76 years, the occupation has relentlessly sought to demean and oppress Palestinians, aiming to uproot them from their land and undermine their resilience. Despite these immense challenges, each hardship serves to fortify generations with a steadfast determination to remain rooted in their homeland—a place intended for Palestinians to live in peace and security.

Yet, amidst this struggle, a pressing question arises: How long will the world remain silent in the face of the occupation’s aggression against Palestinians? How much longer must they endure and fight to secure a dignified existence? How can Palestinians maintain hope and resilience in the face of such adversity?

In the end, I still hope that one day Palestinians can live with dignity, freedom, and peace. I hope they have a moment to realize that this suffering they are enduring is not in vain and that the world can see that Palestine is a global issue, not unique to Palestinians.

I hope for freedom for Palestine, which deserves peace and life.

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