Home / Nablus / ‘Our kites fly over the invisible borders and reach what we cannot’: ISM speaks to Yasmeen Najjar at the annual kite festival in Burin

‘Our kites fly over the invisible borders and reach what we cannot’: ISM speaks to Yasmeen Najjar at the annual kite festival in Burin

29th June 2018 | International Solidarity Movement, Al-Khalil team | Burin, occupied Nablus

Burin is a small village located seven kilometres to the southwest of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, and is home to around 3000 people. The village is surrounded by multiple illegal Israeli settlements, and is subjected to constant violent settler attacks and raids by Israeli forces.

For the past nine years, the village has been hosting an annual kite festival for its residents and their friends and families. The festival is one of the biggest yearly events in the village and is looked forward to by children and adults alike.

Residents of Burin gather on top of the hill outside the village to fly their kites (photo: ISM)

With burning kites being flown by demonstrators from Gaza into Israel as part of the Great Return March, this years display in Burin was particularly poignant. The Great Return March has been protesting the 11 year siege of the strip by Israel.

International Solidarity Movement activists spoke to 21 year old Yasmeen Mustafa Waleed Najjar, the first Arab amputee to climb the highest peak in Africa and one of the organisers of the festival, about what the annual celebration means to the local community.

21 year old Yasmeen Mustafa Waleed Najjar, one of the organisers of the festival (photo: ISM)

“Our village is surrounded by settlements from all angles, as you can see. We fly our kites every year to prove that this is our land. Even if we can’t go there ourselves, our kites fly over the invisible borders and reach what we cannot. We have been organising this festival for nine years, to resist the occupation and show Israel that we are strong inside and out. We can still have fun days in the mountains under their occupation, with music, food and games, bringing joy to our children.

Palestinians fly home made kites at the festival (photo: ISM)

“The idea started as a form of peaceful resistance. Zionist settlers and occupation forces regularly come inside my village to attack us or cause problems. Settlers killed one of my classmates when I was at school, and they come into our houses at night – I remember many times that they entered my house when my family was asleep. They also kill our animals and do a lot of terrible things.

“There is a checkpoint near the village school that my brother and sister study at. The settlers entered the school, protected by soldiers, pushing the students into the classrooms and locking the doors. The occupation has put up watchtowers and fences in close proximity to the school. I remember my younger brother telling me one day, ‘I don’t want to go to school anymore because they always come. I don’t want to go.’

A young girl watches a kite as her father looks on (photo: ISM)

“The village comes together to organise the kite festival to make joy for the children and have fun all together. We stand in solidarity with our community and the Palestinians everywhere who live under this occupation. I volunteer with many organisations, and we do everything to support our people and show the world what is happening here. We are showing the beauty of Palestine to the hearts of others, regardless of the occupation. We invite people from all around, including national groups from my university.

“All the boys in the village make their kites together in the week before the festival. It’s a skill that’s passed down through the generations – their older brothers teach them, and when they are older they teach their younger brothers. It’s become a really easy thing for our kids, and a fun activity to do together and a way to enjoy time with friends and family. It’s a game all of us play – everyone can fly a kite here.

Women watch the festivities from the top of the hill (photo: ISM)

“I was young when the festival started. I remember one year, lots of solders came when we started flying kites on the mountain. They stopped the festival and sent us all back home. We waited for an hour, then all came back and continued to fly our kites! I came with my brothers and sisters and we flew a kite that we had made. It was amazing.

“I can’t remember exactly when I started to get involved with arranging the festival. It was a long time ago. From the age of 11 or 12, the children of our community participate in everything that can bring positivity to our village.”

Read about last’s year’s kite festival here

To keep updated about the village of Burin, visit their Facebook page All for Burin