Sunday, June 22, 2014

Palestinian Human Rights

I have been thinking a lot about the situation here. Things are getting worse and what is happening here seem so unreal. 
I often wonder what would happen if it was another country doing this. What if the actions done by the Israelis were done by another nation, like France or Egypt or Lebanon?
What would the world do if one country one day decided to do the following:
(1) Build a 20-foot wall across towns and surrounding towns preventing civilians from getting to their jobs and schools. Below is a picture of me by the wall...

(2) Kill at least one person a day that is under 18 just because he/she were demonstrating.
Below is a picture of Nisreen Hash-hash who was shot in the face by Israeli soldiers:

Below is a picture of Ahmad and his mother as they mourn the death of his father who was shot in Ramallah yesterday:

(3) Invade homes at night breaking doors, terrorizing people, breaking furniture and tearing the place apart...and then arrest children and men from the home.

Soldiers invading a Palestinian city this past week:

A Palestinian child being arrested:

(4) Torture prisoners in every possible inhumane way.
(5) Prevent people from leaving their cities.
(6) Prevent garbage trucks from taking the garbage out of the cities causing the garbage to gather in the streets.
(7) Cut the water from cities causing many to have no water during these hot summer months.
(8) Claim the land and homes of people taking them by force. With no compensation and no prior notice.
(9) Demolish 27,000 homes for no obvious reason.
(10) Make people leave their country then deny them the right of return to their country even just for a visit.
(11) Forbid people from having the chance to fly out of their own airport.

The list could go on and on...I'll stop here...Really, what would the USA and others do if one country (OTHER THAN ISRAEL) did these things to it's people? Would they send troupes in, or impose sanctions on that country? What do you think?

 No matter how loud we speak, it still seems like people either don't know what is going on here or refuse to know. The Israeli soldiers have been invading our towns every night, breaking into homes and tearing them apart. They arrested many and killed a few. There are demonstrations that go on daily...which, to me, is good because it means that the people here are at least resisting what is going on. For a while people here even lost their desire to resist. They would say 'What is the point, no matter what we do, Israel still does what it wants.'  The best way to resist I think is to let the world know what is going on here...and hope that somewhere somehow someone with a conscience still exists out there. Someone who will have an influence to decide that this must stop.

Today I took a friend of mine to show him a refugee camp (bad mistake--you don't do that with the situation here as it is). We ended up almost in the middle of a demonstration. An angry soldier started to point his gun at my car demanding that I should leave. I quickly turned around and left. Luckily we got out fast enough because soldiers in such situations shoot first and ask questions later...

Today I looked online for the basic human rights that everyone in the world enjoys (or hope everyone enjoys)...I would like to list a few below and tell you why my people don't have these 19 human rights. This does not mean they have the other human rights which are not listed here, but for the sake of time I chose a few...

Human Rights and Palestinians
I got a summary of the Human Rights that every individual should enjoy no matter where they live. I tried to relate them to our lives as Palestinians. Normally, when there is this much violation in human rights we would see UN forces go into the country and try and put things in order. But, not in our case. The international community does nothing, and even supports what Israel does to the Palestinians. Here are some of the Human rights (19 out of the 30) and facts about the situation here:
(to put some context, Palestine and Israel are the same country. I will use Palestine to refer to the Holy Land, or Israel as many tend to call it).

Human Right
How the Law is applied to Palestinians
Article 1
Right to Equality
Jews who were born outside Palestine and lived all their lives in other countries have automatic right to reside in Palestine and have automatic [Israeli] citizenship. Palestinians who have lived here in Palestine for generations are refugees and therefore not allowed to come here even for a visit. Do you know anyone who is not allowed anymore to visit the country where they, their parents and grandparents were born and lived?
Jews here in Palestine can live wherever they want even if it in someone else’s house and land. Palestinians here can live anywhere they want, but as long as the place they choose is in the selected 8% of their country behind a wall…See we have equality!
Article 2
Freedom from Discrimination
Palestinian Muslims are not allowed entrance at specific checkpoints but sometimes Christians are allowed. Palestinian men are not allowed to pray at Al-Aqsa mosque while Women are. Palestinians are not allowed into certain areas of the country while Jews can.
Article 3
Right to Life, Liberty, Personal Security
Liberty? What’s that. We are surrounded by walls on all sides and checkpoints. Our travel is controlled by the Israeli soldiers.  We are free to travel in our neighborhood, so we must have liberty, right? Security…umm does that mean that when they shoot at you and you don’t get hit then you are secure? What about when they enter your home at 2 am and search it and break everything and beat you up, but you survive?  What about them shooting at your house at night, but you are under the bed and don’t get killed? Does that make you secure? If not, that means we have no personal security.
Article 5
Freedom from Torture and Degrading Treatment
Well, what kind of torture? Does daily humiliation at checkpoints and waiting at checkpoints for hours count? What about torture in Israeli jails? Probably too sensitive to share information here about what Israelis do to Palestinian prisoners. But, my late brother in law was forced to wear a stinky garbage bag and stand while tied up in a closet for days. A small enough closet that he could not sit down even. He had to go to the bathroom right there in his clothes while standing. This was actually the least amount of torture prisoners had. Letters to family were not allowed, so released prisoners had to swallow letters and get them out of their stool the next day to deliver them to families of other prisoners.
Article 6
Right to Recognition as a Person before the law
You mean we are people? I had no idea. I always thought we were not because of the way we are treated. We must be aliens or something.  Palestinians can be held in Israeli Jails for 6 months with no trial at all. They can be beaten, shot and arrested for no reason by the soldiers. See, just like people go hunting for deer…we are kind of the same.
Article 7
Right to Equality before the Law
Well, if you are not a person then what equality are we talking about? Naturally Palestinians are not treated as equals to anyone because we are not treated as humans.
Article 8
Freedom from Arbitrary arrest and exile.
Palestinians (of any age) can be arrested at any time and any place for no particular reason. Over 9000 Palestinians under the age of 18 have been arrested in the past two years. There are over 5 million Palestinians who are in exile, not allowed to return back to their home land and live here.
Article 10
Right to Fair Public Hearing
Palestinians can be held at Israeli jails for no reason without a hearing for up to 6 months. After the 6 months they have the right to be released and arrested again the next day.
Article 11
Right to be Considered Innocent until Proven Guilty
Nope, that law is reversed. Palestinians have the right to be considered guilty until proven innocent. An Israeli soldier would shoot a Palestinian if he suspects that that Palestinian has bad intentions. He can shoot them first then search them and see if they have any weapons. The law here is shoot first, ask questions later.
Article 13
Right to Free Movement in and out of the Country
We are still fighting for the right for free movement in and out of our towns.
Article 14
Right to Asylum in other Countries from Persecution
Unfortunately Palestinians don’t have that option as many countries won’t even let Palestinians in as tourists. Palestinians are considered terrorists by many countries.
Article 15
Right to a Nationality and the Freedom to Change It
‘What’s your nationality?’ The officer at airports would ask me. I would stare him. He would repeat the question thinking I did not understand. No sir, we don’t have a nationality. I can tell you I am Palestinian, but there is really no country called Palestine so obviously that is not a valid answer. We live in the state of Israel established over our country Palestine, but we don’t have Israeli citizenship.
Article 17
Right to Own Property
Yup we actually have that right. We can own property as much as we want. But, the Israelis have the right to take that property any time they choose to without prior notice and without any compensation. 27,000 Palestinian homes were demolished by the Israelis since 1967. This does not include homes being bombed by Israeli forces. Israel has over 165 settlements (towns) that are built on confiscated Palestinian land.
Article 18
Freedom of Belief and Religion
For years I sneaked into Jerusalem risking arrest in order to go to church because the Israeli authorities did not allow me into Jerusalem (and the only branch for my LDS church was in Jerusalem). Note that I was born in Jerusalem, so that is my home town. But, as a Palestinian I am not allowed in anymore.
As for Palestinians Muslims, they are not allowed to go to Jerusalem to pray (The Aqsa mosque is a holy site for the Muslims).
Article 19
Freedom of Opinion and Information
Umm opinion to what? We have no say in any decisions whatsoever. Sure we have the right to protest, but we also have the right to be killed just merely for going on a peaceful march to protest.
Article 20
Right of Peaceful Assembly and Association
Palestinians are not familiar with the word ‘peace’ so we can’t answer to this article.
Article 21
Right to Participate in Government and in Free Elections
This article would assume you have a government. Well, we don’t have one of those. Because to have a government would imply that you have a country and our country has been taken from us.
Article 25
Right to Adequate Living Standards
Even though we live in the same country, the Israeli poverty line is about 4500 NIS/Month. An average Palestinian makes 2500 NIS/month. So, we should all be poor according to Israeli standards (?)
Article 26
Right to Education
Palestinians have that, but may also have their education stopped by the Israeli soldiers anytime.  As a freshman, my university (and others in the country) were closed by Israeli military order because the Israelis killed one of the Palestinian students by shooting him in the head. It makes sense, right? (I am being sarcastic as you can tell)


  1. Again, Sahar. It feels so hopeless. I am so sorry. I'm sure I would want to die, especially if something happened to my family.

  2. Thank you. That was powerful and extremely sad. God bless. Hope things improve but it doesn't look good.

  3. Thank you. That was powerful and extremely sad. God bless. Hope things improve but it doesn't look good.