Violence: Through the Eyes of Children
As the West Bank city of Ramallah was besieged in March and April,
Manal Issa collected some comments from neighboring children and
them from Arabic. Issa is the Finance Director of the Khalil Sakakini
Cultural Centre in Ramallah (www.sakakini.org), a non-governmental
that promotes Palestinian art and culture. There is also the chilling
testimony of the arrest of the father of two of the children.
In the midst of reports of daily violence, its easy to lose sight
of the people whose lives are being forever alteredon both sides.
Captured here are narratives both moving and charming as only the perspectives
of children can be. We sought narratives from Israeli children but were
unsuccessful. However, we suspect that their thoughts are quite similar:
disbelief, confusion, terror and horror at all the violence; then the
universal tendency to see how it immediately affects their world: they
cant go to school, are afraid to play outside and cant
even get candy!
My name is Alyyan Zayed, I am 9 years old. I cant play in my back
yard. I cant step outside of my front door because of the curfew.
Ive hidden my toys because I am afraid that the Israeli soldiers
will take me away for having toy guns and toy tanks. I cant even
walk to the store to buy candy because of the curfew. The Israeli soldiers
are killing the young men and frightening the children. They are imprisoning
the Palestinian soldiers and killing the pressmen. Support us and protect
I am Lema Zayed, 11 years. I want to go to school to finish my study
this year. I want to be free during summer, to go swimming and playing.
I want the Israeli soldiers to leave our land and stop the occupation
and stop using these heavy tanks. We have nothing to confront them
I dont want them to occupy our schools or shell them. (3/30/02)
I am Yanal Zayed, I am 4 years old. I want to swim. I want a home, a
house and a window to look through. (3/30/02)
Mustafa Mulhem, 8 years: I want to thank the foreign countries for they
intend to help the Palestinian children. We are in a very bad and poor
situation. Our towns are occupied. I am in Ramallah and we are under
a total occupation by the Israeli soldiers and the city is full of tanks
and military vehicles. I feel sorry for the dead (martyrs) and wounded
people, but our hospitals and doctors will protect us. (3/30/02)
Hiba Burkan 12 years: were longing for peace and security. We
want love and affection. Give us childhood, and freedom. (3/30/02)
I am Ala Jibrin, 12 years. I live in Ramallah in an old house
consisting of one room. It doesnt include a bathroom. Our neighbors
and us use [one thats] outside. It is 30 meters from our home.
The Israeli soldiers prevent us from using it, or going to the kitchen,
which is also outside our home. We cant even prepare food. We
are eight siblings [who] live in a very difficult situation. We are
confused and dont know what to do, if we go out they might shoot
us. Whats more, the Israeli soldiers throw their rubbish in front
of our house door. They use the bathroom in front of our home. Light
has been cut off since yesterday. We ask God, and everyone who has
feelings over this earth to interfere and put an end to this nightmare.
While we were sleeping, we heard the sound of broken glass. We peeped
through the window and saw the Israeli soldiers breaking cars
glasses and stealing the [stereos]. They broke our car windows. On that
morning, 15 soldiers entered our home shouting. They turned the house
upside down, arrested my dad, and kept us in our small kitchen. I think
they took away my dad because he had a Palestinian flag. We saw them
beating the arrested men very hard. Isnt that terrorism itself?
Oh my God! (3/31/02)
Mizer Jibrin, 15 years. (Alas brother). The Israeli soldiers prevented
us from going out to the kitchen or bathroom. We were in an unbelievable
situation. My younger sisters used an empty garbage can; I refused to,
and insisted to go to the bathroom outside. I wanted to confront the
soldiers, and my parents tried to prevent me, and due to my insistence
they agreed, warning me to take care. When I finished using the bathroom,
the soldiers surrounded the place and asked me to raise my hands. One
of them pushed me forcefully, and started questioning me: What
are you doing, whats your name, how old are you? I answered
them, and they were about to beat me, when my father cried: Stop
it, he is a child who went out to use the bathroom! They released
me and broke into our home. They imprisoned my sisters, brothers and
me in our small kitchen. They arrested my father and beat him with the
other men. Then they covered their heads with plastic bags, taking them
to an unknown destination. I experienced the occupation and I will never
ever forget. I want to say stop your occupation, stop your tyranny and
stop your killing, stop
Words from the Father of the Jibrin Brothers
Monday April 1, 2002: I was arrested yesterday with a number of young
men. Our hands were tied and we were blindfolded. We were taken to an
open space where it was very cold and the rain was pouring. We sat on
the ground, hands tied, blindfolded and heads bent. We were detained
like that for 13 continuous hours in the same position. They would beat
us brutally, yell at us and urinate on our heads. The blows were coming
from all sides, on our faces and genitalia. One of us was taken away,
we asked about him after a while and were told he had been taken home.
After midnight our heads were covered with bags and we were told to
go home. The soldiers confiscated our identification cards and said
they would kill us all, but three by three. They said they had already
killed a number of us and would finish the rest in the coming days.
The man who had been taken away is a 17 year old neighbor of mine who
has a brain tumor. After we returned home, we were told he had spent
the whole night under torture, as the neighbors had heard his screams
and cries for help. In the morning, we found his naked dead body in
the street mutilated, his head pierced, and his heart riddled with bullets.
They still have my ID. I know they will come and get me. What I fear
is not death, but that I will die in cold blood, without being able
to do anything.