This past Saturday, I had a meeting with a prospective
Arabic tutor. Located in Jerusalem, she agreed to pick
me up in front of the Qalandiya checkpoint. As a firm
believer of, ďWhen youíre on time your late, when
youíre early youíre on time,Ē I was a half an hour
early. Incidentally, a couple of young men were trying
to set tires ablaze, setting an eerie tone. Journalist
and cameraman from several news agencies were
positioning. Perplexed, I quickly learned that it was
the anniversary of Land Day. In commemoration of six
Palestinians killed during a 1976 march against land
expropriations in the Galilee, Palestinians and their
supporters around the world protest Israelís continuous
occupation of Palestine.
Suddenly, a band of Israeli soldiers marched passed me.
A dozen soldiers lined up against the separation wall
while another group formed a barrier, blocking the
entrance to the checkpoint. Hoping to discourage the
presence of worldwide news coverage, soldiers shot
several stun grenades directly at reporters. In close
proximity, the powerful aftershock completely took over
my body. Remaining calm, I asked a soldier whether or
not he was aware that they were shooting at
journalists. He responded ďDonít worry, those grenades
are harmless.Ē Humanizing being shot at with stun
grenades as a normalcy is outrageous; I became fearful
that the life threatening weapons were reserved for the
Israelís heavily armed military presence during a non-
violent protest is also an intimidation tactic.
Approaching the checkpoint (and soldiers), were
dedicated peace protestors armed with banners and
Palestinian flags, chanting anti-apartheid slogans.
Soldiers immediately shot warning bullets followed with
tear gas, eventually dispersing protestors.
Subsequently, preventing peaceful demonstrations
contradicts Israelís self described egalitarian status.
Meanwhile, I continued to wait for my ride, only to
find out she had to reschedule. Absolutely taken back
at the chaotic turn of events, I was ready to call it a
day. A journalist warned me to take a seat and let
things cool off. Twenty minutes passed, and soldiers
were still firmly aiming at the protestors.
Accordingly, I asked a soldier if they were done
shooting so I could head back to Ramallah, and his
response was, ďYouíre free to leave but I canít promise
that I wonít shoot.Ē
Israelís complete disregard for life, affirms their
oppressive regime against the Palestinian people. Their
excessive use of force against a nonviolent population
draws parallel to behaviors of previous oppressive
regimes such as apartheid South Africa. Moreover, their
attempt to influence Palestinians to succumb to
Israelís tyrannical rule needs immediate intervention
by the international community.
The aforementioned Israeli practices in the occupied
Palestinian territories exemplify the definition of
apartheid. In exchange for sympathy, I challenge my
audience to vocalize support for the Palestinian right
to exist. Frankly, Palestinians were nonviolently
protesting on Palestinian territory. Israeli soldiers
invade Palestinian territory and utilize force to crush
an otherwise innocuous protest, sometimes resulting in
deadly outcomes. No surprise since Israel is one of
the most technologically advanced militaries in the
world. Still, Palestinian continue to protest
courageously, despite facing imminent threat, refusing
to give up their fight for freedom and peace.
Nejwa Ali is a Writer for the Media and
Information Department at the Palestinian Initiative
for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy
(MIFTAH). She can be contacted at email@example.com.