Afro-Palestinian Fatima Bernawi, first of Israel's women prisoners, dies

Afro-Palestinian Fatima Bernawi, first of Israel's women prisoners, dies
A renowned Palestinian female fighter who was jailed for around 10 years by Israel has passed away.
2 min read
03 November, 2022
Bernawi [L] was an active fighter during the 1960s Palestinian Freedom Movement [Getty/archive]

The first-ever Palestinian woman detained by Israel passed away on Thursday in Egypt.

Afro-Palestinian fighter Fatima Bernawi was mourned by Palestinians on social media after news of her death was made public.

"Goodbye Fatima Barnawi. The daughter of Jerusalem and the great fighter, the first to seek freedom and dignity and refused defeat," wrote Palestinian writer and activist Aisheh Odeh in a Facebook post.

"She was the first Palestinian captive after the defeat of 1967 [Six-Day War] of the last century, and she turned into a beacon for us, to guide us to the path of struggle. My condolences to our struggling people and to all the male and female fighters," Odeh added.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas instructed his embassy in Cairo to carry out all necessary measures for Bernawi's funeral.

Born in Jerusalem in 1939, Bernawi was the daughter of a Nigerian father and a Jordanian-Palestinian mother. After leaving the city, her family returned to Jerusalem in 1960 and settled in the African quarter of the city.

She joined the Fatah Movement when she turned 18 - following in the footsteps of her father who took part in the 1936 Arab revolt in Palestine - and was an active fighter during the Palestinian Freedom Movement of the mid-1960s.

She was arrested for a decade and released on 11 November 1979, when she was then exiled, before returning to the Gaza Strip in 1994 and leading the women's police force.

She received the Military Order of the Star of Honor from Mahmoud Abbas in 2015.