“I just want to go to Aqsa. No matter how, I just want to go Aqsa.”
These are the words of Nafisa Khuwais, a 68 years lady from Jerusalem.
Since 2019, Israeli authorities banned Nafisa from praying in the al-Aqsa mosque, the holiest Muslim site in Jerusalem.
Raised within the Holy City, Nafisa recalls how her “love for al-Aqsa mosque” started as a girl with her mother taking her to the holy sanctuary. Now being barred from visiting the masjid, this elderly woman has not given up just like thousands of other Palestinians. In defiance to the Israeli occupation forces and to show her love for the al-Aqsa mosque, she goes as close to the Mosque gates and performs her prayers.
Israel has since 1980 has applied draconian measure to control who is permitted to pray in the al-Aqsa mosque. This limits the number of worshippers within the al-Aqsa mosque. The restrictions stretch from Palestinians in East Jerusalem to those residing inside Israel. Palestinians living in the West Bank require special permits before entering the Holy City, which are rarely granted. As for the people from Gaza, who have been living under a military blockade since 2007, they are completely barred from entering the compound. While Muslims are restricted and barred, far-right Israelis under the protection of Israeli security forces routinely storm into the al-Aqsa mosque.
Nafisa’s story vividly portrays the structurally violent policies imposed by Israel, which manages the movement of Palestinians. However, Nafisa also shows the resilience of the Palestinians in the face of Israeli aggression. Nafisa wakes up at dawn every day, transporting “the old and young, men and women” on her tuk-tuk, to the compounds of the mosque. In an interview conducted by the Middle East Eye, Nafisa expresses her dedication as a reminder to the occupation. She states that she is “like one of al-Aqsa’s gates, its cornerstone, and its pillars” and that she “will never leave”.
Nafisa a 68 year is a light to the young Palestinians on their path to liberation.