The presence of the Israeli occupation is associated with the practice of violence against the Palestinian people in its extremest forms, and a total indifference to interational laws and conventions, and the violation of human rights. Beginning with the racial cleansing massacres and the expulsion of the Palestinian people in 1948 by the Zionist forces, it continues in its different forms to this day.
The Paletinian people have never given in to their tormentors. They resisted the occupation and the aggression in diverse struggles. These included armed struggles, national resistance, struggles within international platforms and human rights organisations, cultural work, all in an effort to expose the occupier’s colonising expantionist racial policy; but also to demand the accountability of the occupiers for their crimes before the international community, to end the occupation, acquire freedom and set up the Palestinian nation on the land.
‘Out, occupiers, out’ and ‘We say it openly: end the occupation’ were slogans shouted by Palestinian protesters against both Trump’s unjust declaration and Israeli occupation, spontaneous slogans that express the views of all the Palestinian people.
The young people are aware that violence is part and parcel of occupation, and lessening it would not make occupation more acceptable or bearable. Therefore, they have never even considered demanding an end to the violence of the occupiers, or lessening it. The Palestinian people do not want a gentle or merciful occupation. They want only to end the racial colonising occupation and to win their freedom.
‘Get out from my country!’ chanted the child Ahed Al-Tamimi simply and instinctively; and Mahmoud Darwish said ‘It’s now time to begone.’ ‘With out souls and blood we will free you, Palestine;’ ‘Long live freedom, Palestine is Arab;’ ‘The people want to free Palestine;’ ‘Resistance will continue;’ ‘With blood, with our souls, we will not give up the land;’ are slogans expressed by the Arab people. And: ‘Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine;’ ‘We all want justice for Palestine;’ ‘free Palestine;’ are slogans expressed by the people of the world.
The children of Palestine responded to Trump’s speech in their own way. Some only took part in demonstations denouncing the speech, the United States and the Israeli occupation. Others went further and found no better way than to confront the occupier’s army face to face, and to throw stones at them. But the occupier army was on the lookout: there were live bullets and gas bombs to meet the stones, the chants, the bare chests of young people and children. “After Trump’s latest speech, 40 children were detained in Hebron alone.’
Images of two children received media coverage: that of Fawzi Al-Junaidi (16 years old) from Hebron, chained and blindfolded during his detention by an Israeli military unit. And that of Ahed Al-Tamimi (17 years old) from Bani Saleh village, slapping an Israeli soldier and ordering him off the threshold of her home.
Fawzi left his home to visit family on 7 December 2017. He happened to pass close to clashes in the area of Al-Tuffah street in Hebron when he was suddenly attacked by a soldier who beat him with an M16 on his chest. Other soldiers joined in to beat and insult him while he lay on the ground. He was taken to a detention centre, blindfolded and barefoot. He was shackled and tortured during interrogations.
As for Ahed Al-Tamimi, she had seen from early childhood assaults on members of her family and village. Five years ago, she stood up to the soldiers who detained her mother Narmeen Al-Tamimi and shouted in their faces: “Go back to you country.” Later, with the help of her mother and her paternal aunt, she attempted to prevent the detention of her 11 year-old brother when a soldier sat on his broken arm to keep him from moving. On 15 December 2017, Ahed could not restrain herself, especially when she had witnessed, a few days earlier, soldiers breaking into her home to occupy it and set up an ambush for some youths in the neighbouring house. Moreover, the soldiers had fired live ammunition at the face of young 15 year-old-boy Mohammad Al-Tamimi. She slapped one of the heavily armed soldiers and shouted, “Get out!” The message is clear: There is no room for the occupiers among us.
Lauding the two young people, Arab newspapers wrote: “Palestine bears heroes not children;” ‘Fawzi Al-Jundi, the legendary youth, the icon of the Jerusalem Intifada;” “Ahed Al-Tamimi, a Palestinian beauty, a heroine, the icon of the third Intifada.”
But how can even high praise such as calling a 16-year-old youth a legend offer solace to the famililies in their misfortune? “There is something that will help the family and make their misfortune less poignant: the boy will become a legend to embody Palestinian resistance.”
And will the Hanzala prize for courage she received in Turkey in 2012 and the celebrations for her in Palestine in 2015 recompense the girl and her family for the physical and psychological damage she suffered at the hands of the occupier? And do Palestinian women only bear heroes? Is a baby born a hero?
The young Ahed answered saying: ‘I am not alone. All Palestinian children act in the same way.” She also said: “My duty is to fight, but in my case, there were cameras to take my picture. Other unheralded Palestinian children did more, but there were no cameras to capture their image. There was no one to take a picture of Ali Al-Dawabsheh whom they [the Israelis] burnt in Duma.”
Ahed Al-Tamimi is a child who witnessed, from her early childhood, the settelements, the barricades, the killing and torture. The occupation murdered her childhood and took away her dreams. She would wish to become a football player were her country free. “My favourite subject is sports. If there were no occupation, I would be a football player.”
What is our duty towards the children of Palestine? To glorify them? Or sing their heroism, their martyrdom, their detention? Or should we criminalise their murder, their detention, their torture, and provide legal protection for them, through appropriate legislations that ensure their protection from all forms of violence, from mental and physical harm, and from neglect and exploitation? Should we not provide social programmes to support them, and report any harm done to them, to follow up on it and investigate it, and, when necessary, to involve the legal system?
Should we not defend the rights of our children to play, to learn, to enjoy sound physical and mental health and a suitable standard of living? Should they not enjoy the freedom of movement, to take part in cultural and artistic activities, to express their views, their natural rights in freedom, in a free society, on a free land?
Children of Palestine, freedom to your nation, and long life to you.