I had a dream to visit part of my nation’s land, might not be a dream for free people but it is for occupied Palestinians who aren’t allowed to travel freely anywhere.
Visiting Gaza was my dream to come true, a date to remember September 2019, what else than endless crying when I crossed in Bet Hanoun ‘Erez’ military checkpoint? I finally saw and smelled the land which we always see on breaking news.
Walking and driving around, it’s real life! I expected to see massive destruction but I saw smiling faces at the shore waving ‘Marhaba’. I expected to see passive weak men but I saw early brave fishermen at the port aiming for a fatty hunt. I expected to see huge frustration but saw creative, leading, inspiring youth sport and technology hubs. I expected to see dispirit women but saw theater and music directors!
The majority in Gaza want to leave, they want to live in peace without Israeli missiles bombing at night, raise their kids in good health without drinking polluted water, feel secured in their homes without being attacked and barred inside, go to school and work without expecting Israeli aggression every now and then. People in Gaza are seeking basic human life, is this so hard to secure?
سنظل في الزيتون خضرته و حول الارض درعا- محمود درويش
لطالما اختلفت انا وأبوي على الكثير من الأشياء، طبعا اغلبها سياسية، بطبيعتي المعارضة، كنت ‘اعترض لأجل الاعتراض’ كما يقول لي دائما. اهلي لم ينتهجوا مسارا سياسيا معينا، لكن في أكتوبر من كل عام كنا نعيش ثورة، ثورة غرام ابوي في ارض الزيتون! ن
كنا ننتفض جميعا معه من الصبح بكير، و يا ويلو الي بترك حبة زيتونة من وراه العقاب كان اكلها و هي خضرا. هذه الثورة التي عززت فينا محبة الوطن و العطاء. و كل سنة يزداد عشقي للزيتون بحسه انتصار مقاومة و بقاء، هو وثيقة تاريخيا على وجودي. اليوم فيليستيا في الموسم الثالث، بدأت تفهم رائحة الزيت البكر و تستطعم الزيتون، فرحتها في جد الزيتون واهتمامها فيه فاق تركيزها في لعبة الليجو. أصرت السنة على الذهاب مع سيدو على المعصرة لم أتوقع ان تنشد للمكان لهذه الدرجة. ت
كل سنة و هوية الزيتون ثابتة فينا! ت
By riding on a colt, the foal of a donkey, Jesus descends from the Mount of Olives towards Jerusalem, and the crowds -mostly Jews- lay their clothes on the ground to welcome him as he triumphantly enters Jerusalem.
200 decades later his followers, Christians and specially Palestinian Christians who are the holy land origins, are being restricted, assaulted, denied entry to simply commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
All we wanted is to share this feast with our 19-months daughter in Jerusalem but Qalandia military checkpoint has prevented us to pass through. We had to wait for more than an hour to pass through the mental detectors and with the unreasonable closure due to the mood of the military force, we withdraw and missed the Palm Sunday procession. You can imagine the little one waiting in an open-air checkpoint, noontime, fully crowded, smoky area, she just went fussy!
On the same day, the procession has been stopped by the Israeli forces in a violent way to arrest a person. Video by Yusef Daher
He was absorbed taking care of each single tree, 39 trees between 2-150 years old, were inherited from his parents and grandparents.
During a family olive harvest day, my 65-years-old dad was happily sharing with us his respect and love to every olive tree, he narrated their life-time stories that made me feel like I have another 39 brothers and sisters.
Amer Zahr, the Arab-American Comedian and Author, posted on his Facebook page: “they need guns, tanks, and flags to prove they belong in the land. We just need our names.” Zahr was pointing to the Israeli occupation who stole and still stealing the Palestinian land. My father still remember the days when our grandparents planted their lands, and on that land our names were engraved.
*Challenges of the olive harvest season in Palestine
Even a good day can get bad, just because we -Palestinians- are not allowed to enjoy a simple family beach trip safely.
Living in the West Bank, movement restriction counts a major impact on our daily life. Following the second Intifada, West Bankers were banned to drive within the occupied land of 1967, including East-Jerusalem, not even to travel without a permit document which has a special procedures for issuing.*
With all the travel difficulties, starting with the inhumane treatment at checkpoints, metal detectors, blocked access to elderly and baby-strollers gates, to high financial transportation charges. Me and my family are still eager to enjoy a basic right of a trip to the beach.
This summer, my baby-girl FILISTIA, turned one and was able to master her playing skills. Being aware of all restrictions, I was pushing towards taking her to the beach even if once! And here (in the slideshow) goes the journey;
*Movement and Access
Filistia and my nephew waiting for about one hour in front of the disabled gate, which hasn’t been opened in years, as claimed by the aggressive Israeli Occupied Force. You can imagine when babies are tied for that long how fussy they get.
After a hassle argument from behind the bullet-proof container that the IOF was settled in, she has forced us to fold the strollers, carry the baby-carriers and manage with the help of 3 other people to pass through 4 metal rolling cages, that barely fits a person, and get the babies pass the metal dedectors several times because the strollers where simply.. beeping !
Still, the return has been also hectic, we had to disturb Filistia’s sleep, wrap here, and pass again the metal gates in the open-air checkpoint where it was cold enough to get a flu 😦
Despite the struggle, Filistia’s smile still raises a hope 🙂
I was curious to look through and see what is there, what is there behind this huge block that prevents me and my people from accessing through.
Among the planned 810km length of the Israeli Apartheid Wall, a hole in one of the 8m height blocks, in the so called Rachel’s Tomb area (north of Bethlehem), was found. And I managed through my lens to capture this image.
For a couple of seconds, I had the feeling of victory, that I could’ve broken through this giant barrier, smell the fresh air of the occupied piecemeal , and mostly enjoy the green nature.
A very old Roman Olive Tree was standing there, proving to the world that no matter what, we are still Resisting by Existing!
Freedom’s light out of the gloom
Look at me, resisting between the middle of the occupier !
“Right to Movement” is the banner of the Palestine Marathon; as it is the basic human right stipulated in Article 13 of the UN Human Rights Charter: ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of movement’(1)
But running the marathon for the second time has presented to me other rights to freedom; freedom to live, to express yourself freely, and to enjoy this challenging life, that Palestinians are living due to the occupation and some cultural difficulties.
April 1st, 2016 has marked a new successful day in Bethlehem, Palestine. 64 nationalities had the chance to participate in the 4th annual marathon. Several cultures, white and black, girls and boys, muslims and christians, different stories and goals but at that spot of the world they all shared one goal; reaching the finishing line with love and peace!
Saleem and Lubna Anfous were longing to see their first daughters’ steps. They run the marathon every year since their daughter was 3-months old. Saleem wants to see her a ‘super-girl’ in the future, successful Palestinian girl who fights peacefully for her freedom.
Celia runs and dances happily with her parents without yet understanding her people’s restrictions in moving easily in Palestine.
A Palestinian lady proves her right to run with ‘niqab’ showing a peaceful image of Muslims who have been presented lately as terrors in the world. Photo by Bethlehem Bible College-Amira Farhoud
Over 1000 international participant ran this year’s marathon. Brain has run 21km finishing the line with a wonderful marriage proposal to Lia at the Manager Square, Nativity Church. Photo by George Zeidan
The marathon presented the freedom of happiness by our disabled fellows. Photo by: Bethlehem Bible College, Amira Farhoud
I ran to break, even for once, the Israeli restrictions to move freely in my country. And raise my flag without being terrified to be shot.
I also ran to teach my coming-up baby that despite all the cultural differences, humanity units us. And despite the occupation the wall will fall and Palestinians will reach their freedom line.