The Darkness Amidst the Light

12717567_10207461494028491_7780378066106641359_nThe story of Palestine and her people cannot be accurately told without reflecting on the darkness of occupation amidst the light that shines in spite of it, the light of Palestine and her people.

Daily, Palestinian people in cities and villages throughout the country are subjected to repeated trauma, psychological warfare, and heinous brutality, inhumane criminality, and outright slaughter of innocents.

At the time of writing, there was yet another *IOF Raid of the village of Beet A’oor, near the village of Bil’in outside of Ramallah City in the West Bank of Palestine.

This is the third raid in a weeks time in and around these villages and each time, the quiet peacefulness, the momentary stillness of the night when the Palestinians can, if only for a short time in their sleep, escape the darkness, not of the night skies, but the darkness in the humanity that surrounds them and that darkness is occupation.

We hear the term PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder used often to describe the psycho-emotional state of someone who has been subjected to horrific circumstances that have left them living in a constant state of fear, anxiety, and worse.  We see this condition in soldiers who have fought in wars, in people who have lived through and survived wars, torture, rape and more.  Imagine now, that every man, woman, and especially child, in Palestine lives with this condition to one degree or another every, single day of their lives.  The difference being, there is no “post”, this is a constant in their lives.

12549118_10207349185580850_6749160876028093984_nThese raids happen in the dead of night, almost always between the hours of 1am and 3am.  Many *IOF *APC vehicles filled with soldiers, armed with rifles, guns, tear gases, and sound bombs, storm into these villages, shooting guns, throwing tear gas, and sound bombs through the streets, under the windows of sleeping children and mothers.

The men, the fathers, grandfathers, husbands, brothers, rarely ever sleep during these hours.  They lay awake, in a constant state of apprehension and expectation of the next raid.  More often than not, they lay awake in the main rooms of their homes, fully dressed and ready to defend their families, and those like Haitham Khatib, photographer and videographer, and others like him, rise to capture the evidence as it happens, to then share with the outside world, what is happening, what they are subjected to constantly.

The objective of the IOF using such tactics is to instill a sense of fear, uncertainty, and sheer anxiety, especially in the children exposed to this almost daily.  This is barbarism on such a depraved scale, there is no conscience, no humanity, no morality among the IOF and the occupation government that controls them.  The Palestinian people have the same human rights as the rest of world, to live, to exist with dignity and strength, to thrive, to sleep in peace, in freedom from this tyranny.

I choose to use my gift for writing to give a loud voice in support, solidarity and unity to and for the Palestinian people, their lives, their stories, their tragedies, and their triumphs.

The majority of the free world believes in freedom; freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom to human rights – we all need to raise our voices and take a stand against the ongoing torment, genocide and apartheid taking place in Palestine everyday.

Haitham AL Boo Age 16 Halhool Village near Hebron 03 05 2016Children and youth are being killed daily by IOF.  Innocent lives taken, leaving families broken and traumatized in the wake of such barbaric acts and crimes.

Examples like the senseless and unwarranted killing of Haitham AL Boo, age 16 from Halhool village near Hebron, slaughtered on February 5, 2016.  In the eyes of Israel, the lives of Palestinians, especially children and youth, bear no value and are free to exterminate at will.  It does not matter what any of these children could possible have done, they do not deserve to be slaughtered like animals.  The reality is, these young people, some in showing their resistance, are typically armed with no more than a few stones to throw against armed tanks and APC Vehicles.

Haitham Al Boo’s story, is but one of hundreds and thousands like his.  According to 2015 reports from the Defense for Children International – Palestine, almost 2,000 children have been killed by live fire just in the West Bank alone since the year 2000.  This number increases weekly.  In an article from Aljazeera news from October 2015,  “Israel violates international law by killing Palestinian children..”, “Israeli forces have been using “disproportionate violence” against Palestinian children as they killed at least ten this month during the ongoing unrest that engulfs Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.”  “Between October 6 and 12, at least 201 Palestinian children were injured by Israeli soldiers or settlers in the West Bank and Gaza, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.” To read the full Aljazeera article, click on this link – Israel ‘using excessive force’ on Palestinian children.

Mohammed Abu Khader age 16, of PalestineEven when Israel’s IOF are held to account, it is a joke.  Take for example the recent court case regarding the murder of Mohammed Abu Khader age 16, of Palestine, who was kidnapped during the month of Ramadan in 2014 and was burnt alive in Jerusalem by a group of inhumane occupation settlers. This was a heinous act of racist violence against not only a Palestinian youth, but against humanity itself. The occupation court ruling has sentenced the members of the accused group of settlers to only 21 years in prison  with the possibility of release after only 10 years. How is this acceptable? How is this justice for such a horrific crime? The family of Mohammed Abu Khader must live with the painful loss of their son and live with no justice for his horrific murder.  (*note that the typical sentence length for murder in Israel is usually a life sentence, commuted to 30 years).

 

*IOF =Israeli Occupation Forces

*APC = Armored Personnel Carriers

 

 

 

 

 

Helping Those Most in Need in Gaza, Palestine

Hani 2 I have had the honor of talking with Hani Qtra, a volunteer at Enterprise Community Training Centre and Crisis Management in Gaza.

Hani’s organization works in some of the worst marginalized border areas stricken with the most fragile groups of Palestinian citizens, and they specialize in helping them from a psychological aspect and social awareness perspective and often with the children by encouraging them through play and art therapy that allows the children to find a means of expressing and releasing emotional stresses and fears in safe and meaningful ways.

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Hani and his team carries out their efforts to help others, people whose marginalized lives and homes have been destroyed by the Israeli occupation of their homes and land in the Beit Hanoun border area. These people are forced to live in small-iron caravans not fit for human habitation as the iron structures are dangerous in extreme summer heat and in the severe freezing cold winter.

These people have lost everything, homes, land, and necessities of life itself.  Hani’s team strive to work with and help these marginalized people, many of which are suffering from severe psychological distress of conditions like PTSD that are incredibly prevalent.  Hani’s team try to bring a greater social awareness of these conditions. 

The ones most affected from Hani’s team observations are the children who suffer greatly from the effects of deep psychological trauma and many have issues of aggression, fear, anxiety and depression, all of which is seen in the low academic achievement levels as a result of several wars, constant conflict, crises and government neglect in providing a humane standard of living through housing and financial aid.

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Hani and his team are working with people to help give them a sense of security and provide an atmosphere of ongoing psychological, and social support.

The reality for Hani and his team is a severe lack of necessary resources, supports and supplies to meet the ever-increasing demands and needs of the many displaced people in Gaza.

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Hani, his team and others like his, working in Gaza, within the camps, need help desperately, in the way of financial support, supplies and other resources to continue their efforts, especially with the children they see and treat.

For those of you reading this article, if you wish to support Hani, his team and organization, please contact Maria Atherton, head of the Faces of Palestine literary project at facesofpalestine@gmail.com