Fahimeh, a woman called Um Riad by her neighbours in the Jenin refugee camp, was sitting on her balcony, half of which had been destroyed during the Israeli invasion in 2002. She was talking to me while making food for her children, the ones who were still with her, as one had been killed and two others had been imprisoned. She keeps a piece of paper in her brassiere – the Kushan that establishes her ownership of her house in Haifa, which she has owned since 1948 but which she has been unable to visit due to her displacement and exile. She said (the translations are mine): ‘Kataluna Bi Dun Rahmeh’ – ‘they killed us without any mercy’. She added: ‘We were tortured, humiliated, invaded [she paused for a couple of seconds] … how history repeats itself, history repeat itself’. She stopped talking momentarily while gazing around her at the destruction of her home and the neighbouring houses and then continued: ‘In their crimes they strengthened our history … with our resistance we will build our future; let me finish cooking for those who are still with us’.
Um Riad's ordeal points to the three main issues that this book addresses. First, it shares and thereby reveals women's suffering in war zones. Second, it shows the way in which women in war zones and under military occupation become warriors and resisters, what I call frontliners.