This year has been particularly difficult for Palestinians with the increased violence in the occupied West Bank territories and with the start of a wave of uprisings in the last two months, which is regarded as being a 'Third Intifada' by the media.
Her name is Nataly and she has had a great impact on my life. Prior to meeting her, I did not know much about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Most of my opinions were shaped by what I read and heard in the media, but generally I didn’t have any particular feeling towards it. To me it seemed a distant and very complicated conflict. It was when I first came into contact with a Palestinian, when I realized the gravity and the importance of the situation. Knowing a person that lives under occupation has been one of my most life-changing experiences so far. Not only did I start to understand the conflict better, but I also developed a strong feeling of affection for those that suffer from the absence of a homeland.
I have heard many stories about occupation, murder and fear from this girl. But what hits me the most is not the tragedy of these stories, but the fact that when she speaks, she speaks with so much strength and calmness. At one point last year, soldiers came to her house and locked her family in a room before checking for weapons. This year, her mother has reported the death of two of her ex-classmates to her. In both cases, she has not cried or shown any sign of grief. I had the impression that she doesn’t get affected anymore. But she confessed she does: ‘It’s just that I’m used to it,’ she says. ‘I’m used to soldiers breaking into my house and scaring my family. And I’m used to hearing of my friends and classmates getting killed.’
This year has been particularly difficult for Palestinians with the increased violence in the occupied West Bank territories and with the start of a wave of uprisings in the last two months, which is regarded as being a ‘Third Intifada’ by the media. To get a better comprehension of the situation and to understand whether what’s happening is an Intifada or not, I decided to write Nataly’s perspective as a young Palestinian living in Hebron, the biggest and one of the most vibrant cities in the West Bank.
What is happening right now in Palestine and what is the origin of such a huge turmoil?
N: In my opinion, the origin of everything is the burning of the 3 month old Palestinian child a few months ago. People got furious because the murderer got convicted for only 6 months.It was unacceptable and we felt outraged.
Another event that fuelled the anger even more, was the closing down of the Al Aqsa Mosque, due to ‘security reasons’ and Palestinians were deprived of the right to pray there. They killed a guy because they thought he had a gun with himself. This was the justification for closing it down. Such events happens every year, because they want to spread fear among us, but this year the events followed a different route.
What changed this year?
N: This year the situation became so critical and widespread in the media because of the Palestinian youth being more active than ever. I think everything happened in such a short period of time that their anger accumulated to a point where it couldn’t be contained anymore. I also think the aftermath and memories of the war in Gaza last year are still echoing in their minds and it makes them even angrier.
How is the conflict affecting you personally at the moment?
N: It is affecting my family and many other families in Hebron, because in such situation the Israeli soldiers come more often in order to check whether we are keeping weapons. Usually they lock them up in a room and stay in the house for several days. And before they leave, they turn everything upside down.
Is this a third Intifada?
N: I don’t think something different than other times is happening, so we can call it an Intifada. It is the same thing happening: We don’t have anything, we fight with rocks, while they fight with guns. Palestinian people are realistic. They know it’s impossible to do something bigger, because they have nothing, they have no support.
This whole idea of Intifada comes out the fact that our youth is particularly more active than usual. What is happening is a stronger way of resisting, a stronger way of denouncing injustice and calling for their rights. Occupation is hard for everyone, but for the young people is unbearable. We are not free to be like the youth around the world. We are not free to live, to dream. There exists a tragedy inside every Palestinian. And what is happening right now is not an Intifada, because everyday is an Intifada for us.
Do you think Palestinian themselves have to change attitude? Do you think there’s something they could do more or differently?
N: We have tried many times to find a solution, but the Israeli government has refused to reach any agreement with us. Today, we don’t trust them anymore. I think the biggest issue is that they don’t recognize that there is a problem. To them, we are unimportant and they think the settlements and the occupation is right. On the other hand, I also think our government has ceased to seek for any solution at the moment. And what’s worse, there are many divisions and conflicts inside the government itself and among political parties, which are created as a result of conflictual pursuits of personal profits. Their desire for power and money has led not only to these divisions, but also to a great rate of corruption and abuse of money that is meant to be used for improving the life of the Palestinians. From time to time they claim they are doing something for us and for our cause, but we know most of them are not doing anything.The Palestinian cause to them is not as important as for the people.
Do you think the upcoming government could be better and do you see any potential influential leader?
N: The current government is weak. They have lost our support and trust.They claim they are working to restore the Palestinian territories, but first they have to sort out the conflicts within their own ranks. What I detest more, is that we the people, are often identified with groups and political parties such as Fatah and Hamas, and their actions give a bad reputation to all of us in the international arena. Oftentimes, we end up suffering because of them. The media has to realize that no political group can ever represent our daily struggle and resistance.
I don’t know about the upcoming government, but I don’t feel any optimism and I don’t see any potential leader that can improve our situation and reputation.
What are your expectations for the future? Is it going to get any better?
N: I believe the situation is not going to get better. I am pessimistic about it. I think everything was planned many years ago and now all is going according to that plan. If you see the map of Palestine from 1948 until today, you notice that we are getting smaller and smaller. I don’t feel there’s any hope for the future. And if the world doesn’t help us, there will be no end to this occupation. But even if they keep killing our hopes, we will never cease to fight and to resist. As our great poet Mahmoud Darwish has said: ‘There is a land worth living and dying for, and that land is called Palestine.’