By Rana Alshami
Israel has launched yet another campaign against the Palestinian people. This time its excuse is the kidnapping of three teenage “boys”. Israel is using this incident to once again collectively punish my people. According to international law, collective punishment is a crime.
Israel worries about these children of illegal colonizers who threw my people off of our land, but what about the thousands of Palestinians, including young children, who have been abducted by Israeli soldiers and thrown into Israeli jails without charge? What are our children guilty of to be imprisoned and trapped in cages? Did they fire rockets into Israel in reaction to the many times more rockets Israel fires at our homes and lands?
Lest we forget
You must not forget these crimes, nor should you forget Israel’s bloody massacres of my people.
My people suffer behind walls and the rest of the world remains ignorant and silent. Thousands of Palestinian children have been tortured in Israeli prisons. No one knows the pain we live with. What proof is there that we really kidnapped the “boys”? And if Palestinians did kidnap these Jewish boys, they would have done so as a result of the atrocities they and their families have been subjected to throughout their entire lives.
We are deprived even of our sleep, and the only thing the powers that oppress us expect us to do is to remain ignorant.
Beginning over 45 years ago, Israel began building settlements in order to prove its claim to all of our land, which it stole by virtue of its greater strength and cunning. It build new settlements and continues to expand existing ones. Chedi Klibi, former Secretary-General of the Arab League, outlines three basic objectives of Israel’s expansionism:
- The annexation of more Arab lands, including the displacement of the inhabitants, which lead to demographic changes that increase the Jewish population; expropriation of Palestinian property and the necessary and continuous repression required to prevent the Palestinians from keeping what is rightfully theirs.
- The preemption of any attempt by the Palestinian people to affirm their human rights, among which is the right of self-determination in their own land. Thus, the original and long term objective of proliferating and expanding settlements is to eliminate the Palestinian people and their recognized national rights from the region’s political map.
- To use the settlements issue to foil any political solution that doesn’t concede full Israeli sovereignty over occupied Palestinian territory. Israel is saying, in effect, that it will accept nothing less than surrender, even though it insists on calling this surrender “peace”.
Dear reader, do you know what it means to be a Palestinian? It means you are not able to move here or there, and that you have few of the basic requirements needed to live a decent life. We are deprived even of our sleep, and the only thing the powers that oppress us expect us to do is to remain ignorant.
As Palestinians, curses follow us everywhere we go. For example, last year I went to Cairo to be interviewed for my visa. I did the interview very well but the officer smiled at me and said: “Rana, sorry, but we can‘t issue your visa to the US.” I asked why? His only answer was “because you are Palestinian”. My American friend spent USD 1,000 on the visa application, travel expenses to and from Cairo, and three days of food and lodging for my mother and me. The US, which assists Israel in making life difficult for us, made us go through an expensive and time-consuming process that it knew all along would result in rejection.
Hear no evil, see no evil
How much longer will the world stay deaf? Is our blood free of charge? What crimes have our children committed that they are forced to live in hell? We are human beings, not aliens. We are exactly like you. Regardless of colour, sex, nationality or religion, we just want to live like you in peace and under good conditions.
Imagine sleeping when, suddenly, you are awakened in the middle of the night to the sounds of rockets and warplanes, and children screaming.
Imagine sleeping when, suddenly, you are awakened in the middle of the night to the sounds of rockets and warplanes, and children screaming. Tell me, how would you deal with this situation? What would you tell your child if he came to you crying and shouting because of the bombing?
Last night, unable to sleep, my 14-year-old brother said to me: “Rana, I put the bicycle on the door of the balcony because of the strong explosion I heard.” When he told me this, I felt helples, knowing I could not do anything to stop the bombing.
Israeli forces shoot gas bombs on my people. Israel practices repression as a major cornerstone of its policy in our occupied land.
Raise your voices and stand by the truth, no matter how much it costs. Our children want the same freedom you have. They want their human rights. All the world should know what life is like here in Gaza. Only justice will heal the wounds of my people.