Samiha Khalil

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Samiha al-Qubaj Salameh Khalil (1923 in Anabta, District of Tulkarm - February 26, 1999 in Ramallah), also known as Umm Khalil, was a Palestinian charity worker as well as a prominent figure in Palestinian politics.

Born in a village, she dropped out of highschool at the age of seventeen to marry Salameh Khalil. After the 1948 War, the couple fled to Gaza where they raised a family of five children, and in 1964 Samiha finally returned to school and graduated.

In 1965, Khalil came to the public eye when she founded the al-Inaash al-Usra society in her garage - it would grow to become the largest and most effective Palestinian welfare organization. In 1977 she became the first and only female member of the National Front Committee.

During the 1980s, Khalil was tied to the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and detained six times by the IDF; she saw two of her children deported from Israel and the other three (who had been out of the country at the time) forbidden from re-entering. She was eventually placed under town-arrest in al-Bireh.

In 1996 she ran for president of the Palestinian Authority, losing to Yasser Arafat, while garnering 11.5% of the vote.

A grandmother of 13, Khalil remained an active member in the political scene, serving on the Palestinian National Council up until her death in 1999.

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