Palestinians imagine life without Israeli occupation

#TweetLikeItsFree: Palestinians imagine life without Israeli occupation
3 min read
04 June, 2021
Using the hashting #TweetLikeItsFree, Palestinians and Arabs have taken to social media to poignantly imagine a life where Israeli occupation of Palestinian land does not exist.
Palestinians have taken to social media to imagine their lives if Israel ended its illegal occupation of Palestinian land [Getty]

Palestinians and their supporters have taken to social media to imagine their lives if Israel ended its illegal occupation of Palestinian land, using the hashtag #TweetLikeItsFree.

The trend comes just days after the world lay witness to Israel's 11-day relentless bombardment of Gaza and brutal repression of protesters in the West Bank, bringing to the fore the long-term consequences of dispossession and displacement for Palestinians.

As Gazans rebuild under a crippling blockade, Israeli military checkpoints continue to stifle movement for Palestinians in the West Bank, with those in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem facing the threat of forced eviction.

Hundreds of thousands uprooted by Israeli forces in 1948 and 1967 dream of returning to their beloved Palestine, particularly refugees currently living in the Middle East.

#TweetLikeItsFree, which reportedly became a top trend in Qatar on Thursday, has social media users envisioning things a little differently with make-believe scenarios.

Abier Khatib, a human rights activists, tweeted a photo of shops in east Jerusalem, and wrote: "Finished my Thursday running in time to enjoy the best lemonade in #Jerusalem Join me if ur round".

She followed it with a disclaimer to her followers: "Guys, this is not true. We are imagining life once #Palestine is free."

Her original tweet was shared by Halim Shebaya, the head of a MENA legal network, who replied: "Good to dream, and hope, and imagine what can be if justice and peace will be achieved in our lifetime."

Palestinians seek east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state under pre-1967 borders. The city is home to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third holiest site in the world for Muslims. 

The holy sanctuary sees frequents raids by rightwing Jewish settlers and the deployment of tear gas and stun grenades against worshippers by Israeli police.

Meanwhile, Amro Ali, a sociologist focusing on the Arab world, tweeted a 1922 poster advertising Palestine Railways, which linked Egypt to cities in Mandatory Palestine, including Jaffa, Jerusalem and Acre.

"Finally, this train service has resumed. I got my tickets and leaving Cairo tonight for a few stops in Palestine. I have two extra tickets, want to join me? #Tweetlikeitsfree," wrote Amro in a tweet shared over 250 times.

Joey Ayoub, a Lebanese researcher and doctoral student at The University of Zurich, posted a screenshot showing a travel route from Beirut to the Palestinian city of Haifa - one that was taken by Palestinians fleeing en masse in 1948 from Zionist militias. 

"Being able to do this without the insane detour," he tweeted.
  
One Twitter user imagined fulfilling the promise of a late relative who was forced out of the nearby city of Acre, during the exodus which Palestinians term the Nakba (Arabic for 'catastrophe') and believe it continues to this day with Israel's policies of ethnic cleansing and forced displacement.

"Today I finally moved in to the house my grandmother was expelled from in Akka in 1948. Her dying wish was to return so I returned for her," she tweeted.