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Palestinian Sheikh Jarrah activists on Time's list of 100 most influential people

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This file photo shows Palestinian activist siblings Muna and Mohammed el-Kurd. (By AFP)

Palestinian Sheikh Jarrah activists Muna el-Kurd and her brother Mohammed have been included by Time magazine on its list of 100 most influential people of 2021.

The magazine said the siblings have become symbols of the Palestinian struggle against the Israeli occupation's attempts to evict residents of Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in the occupied East al-Quds from their homes.

“Through online posts and media appearances, sibling activists Mohammed and Muna el-Kurd provided the world with a window into living under occupation in East Jerusalem [al-Quds] this spring—helping to prompt an international shift in rhetoric in regard to Israel and Palestine,” said the Time.

The 23-year-old twins lead the hashtags #SheikhJarrah and #SaveSheikhJarrah campaign, which have been trying to mobilize local and international action against Israel’s plan to displace dozens of Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah.

“Mohammed and Muna el-Kurd—who were temporarily detained by Israeli authorities this summer—challenged existing narratives about Palestinian resistance through viral posts and interviews, humanizing the experiences of their neighbors and pushing back against suggestions that violence was being predominantly carried out by Palestinians,” the magazine added.

Muna and her brother, whose family belongs to one of the 28 Palestinian families who face the threat of forced eviction in Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, have been keeping the world well-informed about the situation there.

They have garnered more than 180,000 Twitter followers and more than half a million followers on Instagram for their activism.

“Charismatic and bold, they became the most recognizable voices of those threatened with losing their homes in Sheikh Jarrah. Around the world, their grassroots organizing helped inspire the Palestinian diaspora to renew protests,” the statement further read.

The activists’ family is one of the four families which were initially set to be expelled at the beginning of May. Half of their homes was seized by a group of Israeli settlers in 2009.

On May 2, the Israeli district court ruled that the four households must be evicted or reach a compromise with settler organizations by paying rent and recognizing them as landlords. However, the families resolutely refused to give in as a sign of renewed resistance.

Israeli forces have been demolishing Palestinian homes and structures in the neighborhood for the construction of a new settlement outpost under an Israeli court ruling.

“Choosing my sister and I among the 100 most influential people in the world is a positive indicator of the centrality of the Palestinian cause in the world,” said Mohammed el-Kurd in a tweet in Arabic, Palestine’s official Wafa news agency reported on Thursday.

“However, constructing symbols that reduce the struggle of an entire people into one face is not enough to support the Palestinian people. What we demand is a radical and tangible change in the media (which includes Time) to end its bias toward Zionism and to push it to be more daring when talking about liberation movements and the Palestinian resistance in all forms,” he added.

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