Disability Under Occupation: At the Congruence between Conflict, Religion and Society in Palestine

Omar Rashid


This study was undertaken on three levels:

First, to locate the perceptions of disability among the disabled in the occupied territories of Palestine, in light of their religious affiliation. Second, to investigate the realities of the disabled within Palestine; and third, to enquire as to whether there had been any differences in the perceptions of disabilities and the realities of those who were injured in conflict, and those who were born with impairment.

The strategies used in the advancement of this study were a hybrid of qualitative and quantitative methods. The qualitative methods used were: semi-structured interviews, a focus group discussion, and my personal direct observation, as a disabled person within the region. The quantitative component of this study meanwhile, was in the form of purposively sampled questionnaire surveys. It was found during the course of the study that the perception of the disabled within Palestine towards their condition was one of acceptance, with the majority viewing it as the will of Allah, and a strength.

In terms of wider society implications, the position of the disabled was one which was reflective of disability on the general development agenda: a largely neglected stitch in the overall fabric of society. However, there was a perceptible and positive shift in this reality, from neglect, to inclusion - though there was still much more to be done in this regard. Above all, however, the pervading feeling of the disabled within Palestine was that the main disabling aspect of their lives was not their physical or mental conditions, but the occupation itself.

While as regards to the potential dichotomy, it was seen that there was a general agreement that the faith of the conflict-disabled was not challenged by their newly acquired conditions, though there were significant differences between the lived experiences of both groups, with the conflict-disabled enjoying a better status than those who were born with their disability.

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