Condolences are offered to the family and friends of Shaden Abu Hijleh, 50, who was shot dead in her home in Nablus, Palestine, by an Israeli occupation soldier on Friday, (October 11, 2002). Shaden Abu Hijleh was sitting in front of her glass balcony inside her house with her husband, Dr. Jamal Abu Hijleh, and her son Saed, a professor of social geography at Najah University in Nablus, when she was shot. According to her family members, an Israeli jeep stopped in front of the family's house, a soldier got out, went to the back of the jeep, picked up a weapon and opened fire at the Abu Hijlehs. Shaden Abu Hijleh died on the spot when two bullets struck her heart and neck. Her husband and son suffered shrapnel wounds and were rushed to the hospital. Shaden Abu Hijleh was famous for her love of gardening and for her meticulous embroidery. She was elected and served on the executive committee of the Women's Social and Cultural Association, Women's Affairs Center, and a number of social justice groups in Nablus. In 1967, Shaden Abu Hijleh resigned her post as a school teacher to protest the Israeli decision to alter the curriculum in Palestinian schools. Instead, she dedicated her time to activism, getting involved in grassroots organizing on a host of issues ranging from opposition to house demolitions and land confiscations, to literacy campaigns and income-generating projects for women. Shaden Abu Hijleh co-founded the Palestinian Society for the Protection of the Environment. Family members, friends and neighbors fondly remember her reprimanding people regardless of their age, gender, or social standing, for smoking cigarettes. She provided family members and friends with "No Smoking" signs in Arabic and English. More recently, Shaden Abu Hijleh was active in distributing food to the hungry in Nablus, dividing the donated flour, sugar, rice and milk into small packages and taking them to needy families who lost their livelihood due to high unemployment rates exacerbated by the Israeli-imposed 24-hour-a-day house arrest of the entire population that has continued since June 22. In addition to her husband and son Saed, Shaden Abu Hijleh leaves behind her daughter, Lana, chief engineer with the United Nation's Program of Assistance to the Palestinian People and board chair of the Palestinian Popular Arts Ensemble, and sons Raed and Rami, who are living abroad. Messages of condolence may be sent to the family by e-mail to email@example.com.
Published in Hartford Courant on Oct. 16, 2002.