Famed Palestinian liberation fighter, Leila Khaled, is due to tour South Africa from the 7th to the 13th February 2015. She will be hosted by the Al-Quds Foundation of South Africa and Youth for al-Quds, in collaboration with the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), and Boycott Divestment Sanctions South Africa (BDS). A member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), she is renowned for her efforts in the Palestinian resistance against Israeli oppression.
Born in the city of Haifa in 1944, Khaled was forced out of her homeland at an early age as a result of the 1948 Nakbah. Having joined the PFLP, she quickly rose to prominence for her role in two aircraft hijackings in 1969 and 1970.
The first incident took place in August 1969, and involved a Trans World Airlines (TWA) flight on route from Rome to Athens. The plane was redirected to fly over the land of her birth, before disembarking in Damascus, Syria. Once all passengers were safely evacuated, the plane was subsequently blown up.
As pictures of her circulated after the hijacking, she underwent plastic surgery on several occasions in order to alter her appearance to ensure she could partake in further hijackings.
The following year she took part in one of four systematic and simultaneous hijackings targeting Israeli aircraft carrier, El Al. The attempt proved unsuccessful however, with Khaled apprehended by an Israeli air-marshal. She was turned over to British authorities, but later released as part of a prisoner exchange with the PFLP.
Khaled also popularized the keffiyeh, the black and white chequered scarf which is a symbol of the Palestinian resistance movement. Khaled become a cultural icon when images circulated of her wearing a keffiyeh and holding an AK-47.
The life-long activist will be in Cape Town on the 12th February, where she will be part of a special fundraising dinner in aid of Palestine. The event will take place at the Darul Islam Boys High School Hall, situated on the corner of Genootskap & Wilhelmus Roads, Greenhaven.
The dinner will be open to members of the public, with between 500 and 700 tickets expected to go on sale, depending on the size of the venue. Prices will be dependent on the amount of tickets that will be made available, ranging from R150 or R200 respectively.
As part of her tour, Khaled will also be visiting Pretoria, Port Elizabeth, Durban, Newcastle and Polokwane.
For more information or to acquire tickets, contact Al Quds Foundation executive member Yunus Allie at 079 494 5786. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)