Every Palestinian is a suspect

From the checkpoint at Qalandiya (which divides Ramallah from Jerusalem) to the West Bank towns of Nablus and Hebron, racial profiling is rife in Palestine. Palestinians going about their daily errands will be stopped, asked to produce ID, to state their business and to be made to feel like a foreigner in their own country. Put simply, to be a Palestinian in Palestine makes you a suspect for any and every past, present and future crime.

I am in Hebron. It is the middle of the afternoon and there is a lone Palestinian walking down the street. He has entered an area of the city in which many Israeli Jews live. His presence automatically draws the attention of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) personnel. He is asked to produce his ID and state his reasoning for walking in that particular location. He does not argue; he does not protest. This is not new to him. It’s the norm when one is a Palestinian.

He is made to wait while the IDF soldiers radios back to their units to check that his ID is valid. The check could take five minutes or it could take forty five minutes. It really depends on the attitude of the IDF personnel, both the officer detaining him and the one checking the validity of his ID back at the unit’s head quarters. So he simply waits (and waits). He is not alone for long. While he waits, the IDF personnel detain another two Palestinians who happen to be walking pass. The same procedure starts over.

All this for trying to make your way home, to meet with friends or going – heaven forgive! – for a leisurely walk. It is not a situation you can escape; it is simply something you have to accept, for as long as you are a Palestinian you will be a suspect.

Few visitors to Palestine have to endure such treatment. Most have lighter-coloured skin and lighter-coloured hair. In most Palestinian cities, the complexion of visitors would make them noticeable among a crowd of local people, but in the eyes of the IDF they simply assimilate into the background. They are not Palestinian and hence they never arouse suspicions.

Even travelling in a group with international visitors does not provide a moment of reprieve for any Palestinian. Your presence as a Palestinian raises suspicion; there is no escaping it.

Travelling from Ramallah to Taybeh, I received a small, firsthand insight as to what Palestinians have to endure on daily basis.

There were three of us in the car. I am of southern Mediterranean descent. I was in the back seat. The driver was a Filipino American; in the front passenger seat was an American with a light complexion. In the distance we could see the Israeli Police flagging down drivers as they approached. We slowed down as directed.

The Israeli police officer looked inside our vehicle. He looked at the driver, and then his gaze shifted to the front seat passenger. He glimpsed me and seemed satisfied. Nothing roused any suspicion. He began to direct us to move along. Then he looked back at me and directed us to move our vehicle to the side. His stance stiffened. He called another police officer (who carried a large gun slung across his body) to make his way over to assist him.

With the second glance at me, he had noticed my darker skin and hair. I had raised suspicion. How? Why? Simple! I looked Palestinian (Arab), and I was automatically a suspect.

We were directed to present our passports. He took a momentary glance at the passports of my two American companions in the front of the vehicle. They, however, were not suspected of anything. The questions were saved for me. I handed him my passport and then the questions followed:

What was I doing travelling in the area? I was travelling to visit a local Palestinian village up the road.

Where was I from? What city exactly? I told him my hometown, doubting he had ever heard of such a small city.

Nonetheless, he seemed satisfied. His tone quickly changed. His stance softened. He became jovial. He even made a joke, and then sent us on our way.

I am an international visitor to Palestine. When this became apparent, the hostility evaporated. But for a brief moment I was seen as a Palestinian and so I raised suspicions.

It was a situation that I could escape, a status that I am not burdened to carry.

While international visitors take their leave from Gaza, Palestinians remain behind. They have no way of escape. Those that are not involved in the fighting are left to seek shelter and safety within the confines of Gaza while the missiles rain down. Their crime? They are Palestinians in Palestine. It is their being a Palestinian in Palestine that continues to burden their lives and threaten their existence.

But why? It is simple: even in Palestine, every Palestinian is a suspect.

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate.

Raffaele Piccolo is an Australian currently residing in Ramallah, Palestine.

More by


  1. And a lot of them are dead. These are from the last time they massacred Palestinians in Gaza.

    “GazaUnderAttack| Names and ages of killed people in the ongoing Israeli attacks on Gaza
    Because we are NOT just numbers,
    1- Ahmad Al-Ja’bary, 52 years old.
    2-Mohammed Al-hams, 28 years old.
    3- Rinan Arafat, 7 years old.
    4- Omar Al-Mashharawi, 11 months old.
    5-Essam Abu-Alma’za, 20 years old.
    6-Mohammed Al-qaseer, 20 years old.
    7- Heba Al-Mashharawi, six-month pregnant, 19 years old.
    8- Mahmoud Abu Sawawin, 65 years old.
    9- Habis Hassan Mismih, 29 years old.
    10- Wael Haidar Al-Ghalban, 31 years old.
    11- Hehsam Mohammed Al-Ghalban, 31 years old.
    12- Rani Hammad, 29 years old.
    13- Khaled Abi Nasser, 27 year old.
    14- Marwan Abu Al-Qumsan, 52 years old.
    15- Walid Al-Abalda, 2 years old.
    16- Hanin Tafesh, 10 months old.
    17- Oday Jammal Nasser, 16 years old.
    18- Fares Al-Basyouni, 11 years old.
    19- Mohammed Sa’d Allah, 4 years old.
    20- Ayman Abu Warda, 22 years old.
    21- Tahrir Suliman, 20 years old.
    22- Ismael Qandil, 24 years old.
    23- younis Kamal Tafesh, 55 years old.
    24- Mohammed Talal Suliman, 28 years old.
    25- Amjad Mohammed Abu-Jalal, 32 years old.
    26- Ziyad Farhan Abu-Jalal, 23 years old.
    27- Ayman Mohammed Abu Jalal, 44 years old.
    28- Hassan Salem Al-Heemla’, 27 years old.
    29- Khaled Khalil Al-Shaer, 24 years old.
    30- Ayman Rafeeq sleem, 26 years old.
    31- Ahmad Abu Musamih, 32 years old.
    At 8:20 am, as a result to an Israeli inhumane attack on Deel Al-Balah, central Gaza, three people were killed. The list of murdered victims goes longer>>>
    32- Osama Musa Abdeljawad, 27 years old.
    33- Ashraf Hassan Darwish, 22 years old.
    34- Ali Abdul HakimAl-Mana’ma, 20 years old
    At 8:45 am_ 9:00 am, warplanes attacked several places including Rafah, Khan-Younis, and Tal Al-Sultan, southern Gaza, leaving three killed>>
    35`- Mukhlis Edwan, 30 years old.
    36- Mohammed Al-Loulhy, 24 years old.
    37- Ahmad Al-Atrush, 22 years old.
    In a series of attacks on several places on central Gaza at noon, two more people fell victim:
    38- Abderrahman Al-Masri, 31 years old.
    39- Awad Hamdi Al-Nahhal, 23 years old.
    40- Ali Hassan Iseed, 25 years old, killed in an attack on his motorbike in Deer Al-Balah, central Gaza, at 8:10 pm, Novebmer 17.
    IOF attack another motorbike in Deer Al-Balah at 8:20 pm, leaving two more killed:
    41- Mohammed Sabry Al’weedat, 25 years old.
    42- Osama Yousif Al-Qadi, 26 years old.
    In an attack on central Gaza, to the west of Al-Masdar area, at 9:10 pm, two more people people killed:
    43- Ahmad Ben Saeed, 42 years old.
    44- Hani Bre’m, 31 years old.
    At 9:40 pm, Israel attacked Qdeih family’s house in west Khan-Younis, Southern Gaza and a woman got killed.
    45- Samaher Qdeih, 28 years old.
    46- Tamer Al-Hamry, 26 years old, died after being seriously injured in an attack on Deer Al-Balah.
    On November 18, the fifth day of the Israeli ongoing aggression on Gaza:
    Israeli warplanes shelled the house of Abu-Alfoul family in northern Gaza, killing two children and injuring at 13 at least, mostly children and women.
    47- Gumana Salamah Abu Sufyan, 1 year old.
    48- Tamer Salamah Abu Sufyan, 3 years old.
    An Israeli warplanes fired missiles at a house that belongs to the family of Abu Nuqira in Rafah killing one person:
    49- Muhamed Abu Nuqira
    An Israeli war plane fired a missile at a house in an agricultural land east of Bureij camp, in the Central Gaza Strip, killing one child and injuring 2 other children:
    50- Eyad Abu Khusa, 18 months old.
    Two people were killed, one of them a child, when an Israeli missile hit a beachfront refugee camp in Gaza City:
    51- Tasneem Zuheir Al-Nahhal, 13 years old.
    52- Ahmad Essam Al-Nahhal, 25 years old.
    Medics also reported finding the body of woman under the rubble of a house in eastern Gaza City who had been killed in a strike earlier in the morning.
    53- Nawal Abdelaal, 52 years old.
    At 3:10 pm, November 18, Israel rocked a house belongs to Al-Dalou family in Sheikh-Redwan area, west Gaza, killing at least 10 people, including 4 women and 4 children.
    54- Mohammed Jamal Al-Dalou, the father.
    55- Ranin Mohammed Jamal Al-Dalou, 5 years old.
    56- Jamal Mohammed Jamal Al-Dalou, 7 year old.
    57- Yousef Mohammed Jamal Al-Dalou, 10 years old.
    58- Ibrahim Mohammed Jamal Al-Dalou, 1 year old.
    59- Jamal Al-Dalou, the grandfather.
    60- Sulafa Al Dalou, 46 years old
    61- Samah Al-Dalou, 25 years old
    62- Tahani Al-Dalou, 50 years old
    63- Ameina Matar Al-Mzanner, 83 years old.
    64- Abdallah Mohammed Al-Mzanner, 23 years old.
    Soon after Al-Dalou massacre, 2 more were killed, a father and his son, in an attack on a car for water supply in northern Gaza.
    65- Suheil Hamada, 53 years old.
    66-Mo’men Suheil Hamada, 13 years old.
    In an airstrike that targeted Nussairat camp after that two people were murdered and 10 at least got injured
    67- Atiyya Mubarak, 55 years old.
    68- Hussam Abu Shaweish, 35 years old.
    69- Samy Al-Ghfeir, 22 years old, killed in an attack on Shijaiyya area, west Gaza.
    70- Mohammed Bakr Al-Of, 24 years old, killed in an attack on Al-Yarmouk st. in Gaza city.
    At 8:00 pm, November 18, the ministry of health in Gaza has reported that the death toll in Gaza has risen to 69, including 20 children, 8 women, and 9 elderly people. Moreover, Over 660 persons injured since Wednesday, including 224 children, 113 women, and 50 elderly people.
    At 10:00 pm, November 18, an Israeli warplane attacked a motorbike near the ministry of finance roundabout, west Gaza, killing a father and his son:
    71- Ahmad Abu Amra, 42 years old.
    72- Nabil Ahmad Abu Amra, 20 years old.
    At 10:10 pm, November 18, an Israeli warplane rocketed a house belong to Nasser family near Abu-Sharekh crossroad in northern Gaza, killing a child and his father.
    73- Hussein Jalal Nasser, 8 years old.
    74- Jalal Nasser
    On November 19, the sixth day of the Israeli ongoing aggression on Gaza:
    At 12:10 am, an Israeli warplane attacked Mahmoud Al-Hashash house in Rafah killing one woman.
    75- Sabha Al-Hashash, 60 years old.
    At 1:00 am, an Israeli warplane rocketed a car in Rafah killing two people:
    76- Saif Al-Deen Sadeq
    77- Ahmad Hussein Al-Agha.
    78- Emad Abu Hamda, 30 years old, killed after being seriously injured as a drone fired a rocket at Beach camp, west Gaza.
    79- Mohammed Jindiyya, mentally disabled, killed in an attack on Helles roundabout in Shijaiyya, west Gaza.
    At 4:10 am, Israel committed another atrocious crime shelling a house belong to Azzam family that is full of children. 3 people were killed in this attack and at least 40 injured. Medics said that more than 15 children have arrived Shifaa hospital, three of them are in a very critical condition.
    80- Mohammed Iyad Abu Zour, 4 years old.
    81- Nisma Abu Zour, 19 years old.
    82-Sahar Abu Zour
    83- Ahed Al-Qattaty, 38 years old.
    84- Al-Abd Mohammed Al-Attar, killed in an attack on Beit-Lahya, northern Gaza at 6:00 am.
    85- Rama Al-Shandi, 1 YEAR OLD, killed as four F16s airstrikes hit former security compound Al-Saraya in Gaza City.
    In an Israeli attack on Al-Qarara area to the south of the Gaza Strip, two farmers were killed at 8:50 am:
    86. Ibrahim Suleiman al-Astal, 46 years old.
    87. Omar Mahmoud Mohammed al-Astal, 14 years old.
    As a warplane rocked a motorbike in Khan-Younis, southern the Gaza Strip, two people were killed:
    88. Abdullah Harb Abu Khater (21)
    89. Mahmoud Saeed Abu Khater (34)
    An Apache warplane fired a rocket at a car in Al-Berka street in Deer Al-Balah, killing three people:
    90. Rashid ‘Alyan Abu ‘Amra (45)
    91. Amin Zuhdi Bashir (40)
    92. Tamer Rushdi Bashir (30)
    93- Hussam Abdeljawad, killed as an F16 rocked his car in Saftawi street, northern Gaza, at 2:25 pm.
    94- Ramadan Ahmad Mahmoud, 20 years old, died this morning after being seriously injured in an attack that hit Al-Maghazi camp, two days ago.
    95- Mohammed Riyad Shamallakh, 23 years old, killed as IOF targeted a car in Tal Al-Hawa, southern Gaza city.
    At around 4 am, two people were killed as an Israeli warplane fired a missile that hit Al-Nusseirat Camp, to the west of Gaza city.
    96- A’ed Radi
    97- Ameer Al-Malahi
    In an attack on Al-Shorouq building in Gaza City which contains several media offices, 2 were killed and 3 journalists were seriously injured.
    98- Ramez Harb
    99- Salem Sweilem
    100- Muhammed Ziyad Tbeil, killed in an attack than hit central Gaza.
    At 6:55 pm, an Israeli warplane attacked Al-Bureij camp killing two people:
    101- Arkan Abu Kmeil
    102- Ibrahim Al-Hawajri
    At around 8:00 pm, an Israeli warplane shelled Shhada family’s house in Nusairat camp killing two people from the same family.
    103- Khalil Shhada
    104- Osama Shhada
    At around 9:00 pm, Israel committed another massacre against Hjazi family killing a father and his two sons, and injuring at least 15, most of them are children and women.
    106- Suhaib Fo’ad Hjazi, 2 years old.
    107- Mohammed Fo’ad Hjazi, 3 years old.
    108- Fo’ad khalil Hjazi
    On November 20, the seventh day of the Israeli ongoing aggression on Gaza:
    At around midnight, an Apache rocketed a house in Rafah that belongs to Nassarsa family, killing two siblings and injuring 10 others.
    109- Mohammed Tawfeeq Al-Nassasra, 20 years old.
    110-Ahmad Tawfeeq Al-Nassasra, 18 years old.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.