Monday, September 4, 2017

Is every Terror attack committed by a terrorist ?

The rise of an extreme style of conveying an opinion has turned the word terrorism into a word that is frequently heard. With that comes a new definition of oneself. One that is based on what you consider as a terror act and what groups you think are terrorists.Your political affiliations determine who you are.  

As a Jerusalemite I’ve witnessed terrorism and had to form an opinion on who are terrorists at an early age. Nevertheless, until the age of 11 terrorism was an abstract idea that I only heard about in memorials such as 9/11. However I was surprised to find how existent terrorism is in Jerusalem. This happened when I witnessed an attack where a man drove into 4 people on a train station. This would become the premier of a long set of attacks that have been taking place in Jerusalem for the past 3 years.

Oddly enough I figured that the man who committed the act was an arab and referred to speaking in english and hiding my religion book that I was studying from. I hated the man. Hated how he put me and these strangers in such a position. Hated how desperate he was for attention. I was also bewildered how such a simple act that can't be stopped can ruin the whole country. After All, the government can't just stop people from driving.

This became more frequent as time passed. The style of the killing would change from driving over people to stabbing. These committers were so embedded within the society you can't prevent them until the act is done which has drove the police to become even more violent and oppressive such as shooting any palestinian looking person they doubt.

As time passed I started to see a different angle to what is happening and I stopped calling them terrorist attacks. When a civilian kills an another due to injustice, is that a terror attack ? When a man defies a country that is oppressing him, is that a terror attack ? Israel commits many crimes against palestinians. Palestine doesn’t have a strong army and won’t fight so it makes sense that a civilian would try convey a message through these attacks. They are showing the Israeli government that things are not fine.

These attacks are done by jerusalemites that are considered as second class citizens. these are individual acts with no political background. These people are not extremists. These are citizens that are treated unfairly and are outcrying against an occupying power. They know these attacks won’t bring back a country however they will disrupt the daily regime in israel which is enough.

There is are specific classes in the hierarchy that are committing these attacks. They are mostly working and lower class. These have immense financial difficulties that are even made harder due to taxes imposed by the israeli government. These youngsters are also targeted by the israeli police for no concrete evidence. So when a government attacks you and you can’t protest. You become violent.

A recent interview was conducted with the family of a martyr who committed an attack. They explained that their son was quiet and introverted but loved visiting Al Aqsa mosque. He was supposed to turn himself in to begin a 4 month jail sentence for a fight he had with an israeli policeman and was prevented from visiting the mosque. On his way to prison he conducted an attack that killed two Israelis. This man thought that whole government was against him. Out of desperation he decided to kill himself and punish the government. As a Fatah (a political party that is running the Palestinian government) official said:” The occupation government bears responsibility for the Palestinian responses.”

Here Israel practises its collective punishment as a response for the attack. They create concrete blockades with checkpoints that prevent people from going through their daily life. They destroy the houses of the immediate family of the martyr. Family members are detained and taken to jail and of course the body of the attacker is not given to the family. This is supposed to scare people from committing such attacks but for now all it's causing is more uproar for the injustice Jerusalemites live in.

But then again terrorism is any act of terror against civilians and these palestinians are killing Israelis. Targeting the military makes more sense humanity wise. I was talking to group tonight about this same topic and a man mentioned that it is an unwritten rule that any act of resistance against military officials is not terrorism, but in the mentality of an attackers, its easier to kill civilians because they’re not as protected by life vests.

So where does that leave us ? Are they terrorists or not ? That is a question I can't answer. Your ideologies shape you and your opinions. However, I do encourage every reader to try and find all aspects of a story. Even this ruthless attacker can have a story that might make him human. This makes defining terrorism even more complicated, but that's better than turning a blind eye on what is happening.

Friday, June 16, 2017

3 hours and 15 minutes of electricity a day

The power line falling at my house in Jerusalem is an infrequent yet completely delightful occasion. Just like every other house in the Western Hemisphere it's a great opportunity to shut our phones and sit down together as a family. However, down south of The State of Palestine hours without electricity in Gaza are the norm and matters are getting worse.

Israel supplies Gaza with 120-140 MGW through 10 electricity lines. Around 23 MGW are supplied through Egypt however these are not reliable. Together they make up around 150-160 MGW which account for 40% of what the UN estimates as the power supply needed to meet basic humanitarian standards which are 400 MGW.

So since april Gazans receive around 4 hours of electricity a day leaving businesses and schools unable to operate fully. Medical Aid for Palestinians CEO Aimee Shalan said: ““The international community’s failure to solve Gaza’s devastating fuel and electricity crisis – and the 10-year blockade and closure of which it is a part – is severely affecting the lives of ordinary Palestinians. With only a few hours of mains electricity per day, hospitals are forced to rely on generators for power, the fuel for which is now carefully rationed and in danger of running out entirely.

“Surgeries have already been cancelled, and hospitals forced to cut back on essential cleaning and sterilisation services. Medical equipment is rapidly degrading due to constant fluctuations in electrical current.”

However the issue is becoming more complex as The president of The Palestinian Authority (PA) Mahmoud Abbas has casually informed Israel of their intention to pay 40% less on their monthly bill of 40 million shekels which are used to supply Gaza with Electricity. This will result in more electricity cuts by that reducing the 4 hours by 45 minutes.

The President of the PA has asked Israel to reduce the electricity as an attempt in a series of many to pressure Hamas ( The PA’s main rivalry) to step down from Gaza. Hamas took over in 2007 after a bloody coup.

Hamas has responded with an outcry calling Israel’s actions “disastrous” and that cutting power pushes Gaza even closer to explosion. However Israel is taking a nonchalant stance on this responding that the supply cut would be according to the payments received.

Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu regarded this issue as an internal Palestinian dispute and that Israel is not part of this struggle.

Egypt meanwhile has offered to supply the much needed electricity if Hamas agrees to a list of security demands that include handing over 17 men wanted by cairo.

In the past Gaza used to have one power plant consisting of four power turbines which requires diesel fuel. At its optimum it can deliver 140 MGW. Hamas has used Turkish and Qatari funding to buy diesel however the power plant closed around january this year due to what Hamas claims as high taxes on the diesel fuel that is only supplied through the PA.

I couldn't help but notice The word Qatar there in the last paragraph and start my own interpretations as I love conspiracy theories . I need to point out that The past two years haven’t been as politically eventful in the middle east as the last four months ever since Trump’s visit. One of the reasons of the blockade on Qatar is due the fact that Qatar supports Hamas which is a terrorist organization in the eyes of countries such as Israel and the US. The lack of support from the surrounding countries including Cairo ( which takes part in the blockade) and Qatar's now inability to help could be putting Hamas under serious pressure. Is the US’s plan to end terrorism in the middle east or is it to end Hamas ?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Dignity strike

Last Monday on prisoner's day Marwan Barghouti a palestinain leader announced an open-ended strike in an op-ed article in The New York times which the Israeli prison officials report was smuggled by his wife, Fadwa. 
Marwan Barghouti who is leading the strike was convicted on charges of murder and was sentenced to five life sentences. In his article he stated that: "Hunger striking is the most peaceful form of resistance available. It inflicts pain solely on those who participate and on their loved ones, in the hopes that their empty stomachs and their sacrifice will help the message resonate beyond the confines of their dark cells."

More than 1000 Palestinians in Israeli prisons have joined the strike. About 186 have ended it, yet hundreds have joined since. The reasons to end the strike are personal which could include health conditions as every body is different. 

The main demand is to ensure regular family visits. As Barghouti stated, Israeli prisons are mostly in the occupied areas and so it is difficult for families to even get permits that allows them to enter and travel in the occupied areas turning their lawful right to see their families in Israeli prisons into a privilege. 

Other demands include improved medical service, pay phones to call relatives, access to education for Palestinian children and an end to administrative detention which is when an individual is arrested without being convicted or without knowing what he/she is being convicted of for security reasons. Under international law this could only be lawful under exceptional circumstances. However Israel has been in a state of emergency for 67 years and regularly exercises administrative detention. 

Individuals could be detained for "secret evidence" that the lawyer nor the detainee can see. The integrators could prevent access to lawyers and food. They can even prolong the stay of the detainee for as long as they think is necessary.
They also pressure prisoners by isolating them in inhuman conditions that include a thin mattress and no bathroom in a solitary confinement. 

At the moment there are around 6500 Palestinian prisoners including 500 administrative detainees. These include political activists, students, journalists and authors. 

Israel has been punishing the hunger-striking Palestinians by forcibly moving them to different sections of Israeli jails, confiscating their clothes and personal belongings, force feeding them and placing their leaders in solitary confinement's.

As for the prisoners' bodies. They stop feeling hunger pangs after the third day. Their bodies starts to use their muscle protein to make glucose , a sugar that is important for their cell metabolism. There is an increase in nausea due to the lack of energy provided to their brain. The kidneys stop working which increases toxics in their bodies. Salt and water ? Blood pressure falls due to lack of salts in the blood which prevents blood from reaching all body parts. Also salts prevent the stomach from developing a great environment for bacteria and fungi growth. 

Lastly, What can we do ? 

I have ignored this for a week now but have decided that the only way we can go through this is hand in hand. I dont know how effective these methods are but here they are: 

1- Theres been videos on social media circulting about the water and salt challenge. Where a person drinks a glass of water with preferably a sprinkle of salt.

2- I've seen some people changing their profile pictures to include a slogan that says dignity strike. You could do that by clicking your profile picture and adding a frame. 

3- Share #dignitystrike or in arabic #اضراب_الكرامة which I think can bring awareness to why our prisoners are striking. 

4- Theres the freedom and dignity run tomorrow in Ramallah that starts from AlSa'a circle at 9. I believe the larger the number the more awareness this could bring. 

5- Boycotting isaeli products. Truthfully, I've always found this difficult but you could start by gradually decreasing Israeli products that you're buying. 

I hope that I'll see people my age participating more in bringing awareness to the rights that are being denied to our prisoners. I've seen adults participating in the challenge but not as much from teenagers . I'm not criticizing or anything but I hope that whatever we do can help or at least support our families in the israeli prisons. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

What is your passport ?

Hey guyees,

Ive complained to many people about how horrible it feels to have a temporary passport. Jeruslamites don't have a Palestinian passport nor an israel one, unless they ask for one, so great Jordan gave us a temporary passport. I hate the idea that its been temporary for over 40 years but still appreciate Jordan for this.

I've only renewed my passport once. It's much worse than the interior municipality in jerusalem. I've made a comparison because in Jerusalem they make us wait in a line outside of the building in a heat wave, exposed to the sun for hours. Hugged by fat, sweat and boobs. In Jordan they do that plus make us move up and down a 4 story building while the employees patronize us but we accept it wholeheartedly at least it wasn't done by an Israeli but by an arab brother.

So I've never been truly proud of holding such a passport because when it comes down to serious business I'm almost identity-less so I've been trying to catch an american dude here or there.

What brought this up is that around 5 days ago the kingdom announced that it would raise the cost of renewing passports for everybody which sounds fair. My Jordanian friend told me that everything is getting more expensive there including cooking gas and food.

The thing is while they raised the price from 20 to 50 JOD for Jordanians with the national number they raises it from 50 to 200 JOD which is around 280 dollars for temporary passports meaning for Palestinians.

I was enraged. Palestianians truly dont have the money for this. Are Palestinians to pay for fixing roads they wont drive ? or make gardens they wont see ? After all these Palestinians like me live in the west bank and Jerusalem and barely visit jordan.

I truly ask what is the aim behind this ? Is there a justification ? And if there is I'd like to hear it.
I thought about it and you how my head is filled with conspiracies and I came up with this:
Maybe they make the experience of renewing the passport repulsive and expensive Palestinians would refrain from renewing their passports and might even apply for an Israeli passport instead.

My search for a British or an American husband is getting serious.

Good night

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The normal

Growing up as a Palestinian has its own complications. I started realizing who I am and what it implies to be born on the most important mountain in the world at the age of 10 (Quite late compared to my other classmates). I first understood that I was affected by my nationality when I was at a school event and the headmaster said "Inshallah next year we'll have this event again and Palestine will be free". I got this exhilarating feeling of hope that flowed just like adrenaline through my body. I believed him, promising that next year I will attend this event and Palestine will be free.

Two years later I kinda felt how cliche this sentence is. Its repeated many times in all types of events. I dont get the same intense feelings anymore but yet a spark of hope does ignite as a respnse in the space between my abdomen and chest when it is said as if suddenly Palestine will be freed like poof.

At the age of twelve I understood how lucky I was. In Palestine the place were you're born in truly identifies who you are. Essentially 10 kilometers can ruin your life (Im actually exaggerating a bit, being born in the west bank does affect your life,in some cases making it better, but won't ruin it). My parents were jerusalemites so I was born in Jerusalem. Sometimes I feel like my family in the west bank envies this small privilege that I had no effort in and it makes sense. I could arrogantly leave and enter the west bank while they stood behind the wall waiting for permits.

Jerusalemites are not involved with the west bank. This wall had a true effect on people which is alienating us from each other. Some of my classmates call people behind the wall "Them". Check points turn a family visit into a brutal battle between cars in a never ending traffic while the smell of rotten egg is produced from their exhausts, not mentioning the days when soldiers throw tear gas at us. On these occasions my easily affected mom keeps on sneezing all day till she sleeps. I see my friends hasitate when I mention going to the west bank because we have to go through the wall.

I myself dont see the wall. Its just something that exists. This concrete wall doesn't stop me from reaching the west bank. The west bank is very different than Jerusalem. The mere fact that I will be walking down the street knowing that I will hear no hebrew makes me feel much safer. Its as if whenever I cross the wall I can truly breathe. I can truly be an Arab around my people.

What brought this up is what happened last week.
My family and I planned to go to Ramallah after school. Normally theres lots of traffic on the checkpoint around that time, but we just considered it as something that we had to go through. My brother was in the front and I in the backseat but sitting in the middle so I can be more involved in the conversation. We reached the roundabout that was just before the checkpoint and drove through it. Now the wall was on my right. Just like always grey, hideous with many footballs caught in it, but then my mother turned around and drove back.

She said" I heard theres this opening in the wall where you can reach ElRam". ElRam is next to Ramallah and is concidered in the west bank so its behind the wall. She drove away from the wall then took a right and there the wall was right infront of us.
My mother drove slowly as three Israeli soldiers pointed their guns at us. I stooped a little as we passed the gate then jumped out of my seat pulling my body forward and trying to get a better look.

The wall was different. It was somehow less gloomy. There was graffiti drawn all over it and advertisements on it. The roads and the air were different, somehow less clean and then i realized that i was in ElRam. I was in the west bank.

I asked aloud "Are we really here?". I was astonished because truly I never thought that I was affected by the wall. I truly believed that Jerusalem and the west bank were separated. There was a wall to prove that ! I was born in 2000 and the wall was built around 2004. Ever since I was a little girl the wall existed for me. I didnt know "The Golden times" where we could just walk to Ramallah.

I hate myself for thinking that it is normal to have that stinking wall. They turned a peaceful 3 minute drive into a chaos of cars bumping each other and people hating each other. I hate that they made jeruslamites seem a bit better than my friends in the west bank or gaza just because they have a blue card and can move around. I hate that people in the west bank sometimes make me feel like I am not one of them. I hate that they gave us a prison cell bounded by a wall and called it ours.

That was the moment when I truly realized that the Israeli occupation can never be called friendly. These monsters have turned peaceful Ramallah into a dreadful experience. They created a wall between my life and the ease of chest I feel when I reach Rukab street surrounded by stranger that I trust. How they fooled me and fooled many others to believe that these two places were different.

All of these emotions rose at once. I sat back and cried and I am still crying till now while writing this because I realized that I have also been avoiding Ramallah too.

Mr. Drumph said that we should ask Israel wether walls work or not. There is no need for that. I know about walls. And Yes, They do work magnificently. I assure you, Mexicans will fight for a while but then they'll clam down eventually. Their kids will also call it the normal.