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Occupation through the eyes of a child: the way to school

24th October 2016 | International Solidarity Movement, al-Khalil team | Hebron, occupied Palestine

Imagine being an eight-year old boy, walking to school,
and as you come close, close to the roadblock you have to pass every day,
army jeeps are everywhere, blocking the roadblock and the gate.
You have to squeeze past the jeeps on one side, or squeeze between the two,
just to pass the roadblock, just one of the obstacles installed by Israeli forces,
as an everyday reminder that you’re the occupied, the ‘less human’,
the people the occupying army is trying so hard to displace.
Your only fault: being born Palestinian.


Or the boy, that lives near the settlement, used to the ubiquitous presence,
of settlers from the nearby illegal settlement, built on your family land,
of heavily-armed occupying soldiers, with the only duty to protect the settlers.
The military tower on top of your family home, your ‘safe place’,
a daily reminder of the vicious occupation.
Your only fault: being born Palestinian

Growing up under occupation, nothing is normal.
Everything is normal. A foreign army waking you up at night,
the day before an important exam, dragging your brother away,
into the dark of the night. Normal.
Normal is not normal, unnormal is normal. Occupation is ‘normal’.
Given this normalcy, on the way to school, two dozens soldiers,
army jeeps and military gates blocking the way. Normal.
Happily walking to school, looking forward to meet friends.
Your only fault: being born Palestinian

Imagine being a first-grader, the way to school, scary.
Settlers from the illegal settlements, they’ve already beaten up your big brother.
His fault: being born Palestinian,
daring to play outside his own home on a Jewish holiday.
The ever present occupying army: watching. Preventing an ambulance to reach your brother.
“No Palestinian cars on this road”.
With many settlers and soldiers on the street, the way to school seems impossible to do.
The way to school, just two minutes, suddenly seems like an hour.
Still standing in the door, unsure whether the way is do-able today.

All the army presence – leaving as soon as the first tunes of the national anthem sound,
marking the start of the school-day. The army presence, just for intimidation?
To intimidate school-children, on their way to school,
to achieve an education despite the occupation.
The national anthem, sounding the resistance, the steadfastness of the Palestinian people.
Sounding the illegallity of the Israeli land-theft, blatant human rights violations and war crimes.
Sounding the unwillingness of the Palestinians to be de-humanised, destroyed, dissapeared.