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Nkwenkwezi Bil’in: The Star of Bil’in

by Abdullah Abu Rahme, Coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Wall in Bil’in. Translated By Nasir Samara, February 3rd

Throughout the history of the occupation, Palestinians have sought every means to resist, to make their voices heard to the world, and to raise international support for the Palestinian struggle for freedom and independence. One of these means includes promoting solidarity with Palestine through international volunteers, whom we consider as ambassadors for our struggle in their own countries.

Yet the lives of these volunteers also bring inspiration to us. Take the story of Anna Wicks, 30, as an example. Anna fought against discrimination in her native South Africa, and came to Palestine with the International Solidarity Movement on five occasions to stand with the Palestinian people in their struggle against the occupation and the Apartheid Wall, one of the most visible forms of open discrimination in the world, one which separates citizens from their lands and which prevents them from moving freely in their own homeland.

Anna stood with farmers and citizens of the villages of Nas’ha, Budrus, Jayyous and Bil’in. She participated in demonstrations and direct actions against the Wall, and accompanied students in Hebron in order to help them reach their schools. She stayed awake with the Bedouins living in caves in Khirbat Qawawis in South Hebron in order to protect them from settler attacks. She also acted as a human shield to protect civilians from Israeli military attacks. When the Israeli army tried to arrest one Palestinian youth, she and her friends exerted all their physical energy to secure his release. Her life was endangered many times in this way, and she herself was injured and arrested in Bil’in, and eventually deported from the village by the Israeli military and prevented from returning.

The last time she came here was one year ago. Israeli immigration authorities tried to deny her entry at Ben Gurion airport until she presented them with documentation proving that her visit was not political, but humanitarian in nature: Anna had come to donate one of her kidneys to a three-year-old Palestinian girl, Lina Fareed T’aem Allah, from the village of Qiri.

She was allowed to enter only under the condition that she did not return to Bil’in. The transplant was carried out successfully and Anna’s act of generosity has saved Lina’s life.

A few days ago, Anna gave birth to a little girl whom she named Nkwenkwezi Bil’in, “the star of Bil’in.” So while she cannot physically be with us in Palestine, Palestine will always be with Anna in the form of little Nkwenkwezi Bil’in.