For the third week, Israeli soldiers waged war against Jenin and its camp using vehicles of the most obscure size and shape. The streets have become a battlefield where fierce encounters take place between Palestinian kids and Israeli machines.
The constant encounters with the Israeli military has shaped the lives of children. Tanks rumble through their peaceful dreams; prevent their parents from reaching their work, hinders their relatives treatments, and disoblige them from school. However, they refuse to be subdued. Such a thing ensures the greater and deeper awareness, experience and understanding among this generation. They hate the occupation and are ready to fight and die as martyrs. Holding a stone in his hand, tenth grader Mustafa, assessed that, Ã¢â‚¬Å“we face the occupation since we have the right to live without Israeli tanks, soldiers, and shootings.Ã¢â‚¬Â He does not fear the endless rattle of guns. Ã¢â‚¬Å“If we do not continue the Intifada, we will forever live under occupation. Palestine is ours!Ã¢â‚¬Â
Cheers and cries fill the air. When the tanks approach the main square people scatter, then they take charge and hail the tanks with stones. Ahmed 14, gleefully shouting and singing while tossing stones at the tanks. He is cheerful because, in his words, Ã¢â‚¬Å“the children of Jenin do not fear the Israeli tanks, they compete to defy them. We tell the Jews that our people are strong, do not give up, and do not fear the curfew, closures and planes.Ã¢â‚¬Â Ahmed is flanked by eight grader Bassam, running boldly. He is determined to fix a small flag to the back of the tank.
succeeding he is met by jubilations and applause. The tank is big even to Bassam; Ã¢â‚¬Å“but weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not afraid of it. We grew up and got used to these things. WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve lived through terrible moments and we feel that what we do is our duty since the occupation violates our rights and kills us. My brothers are in Israeli jails, my school is closed, and my land is occupied. I have to defend it.Ã¢â‚¬Â 8 year old Imad said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am not afraid of the Israeli soldiers and their tanks. We are the heroes of Jenin. We are stronger than occupation and we will continue throwing stones at them until we regain Jenin and Jerusalem. Neither Sharon nor his army frighten us.Ã¢â‚¬Â
These words embody the mythical encounters of Jenin under curfew. Every day the children of Jenin wake up to the sound of whizzing bullets and loudspeakers imposing curfew. Another of the valiant young matadors, Abdullah describes it, Ã¢â‚¬Å“when I hear the soldiers imposing curfew, I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t get frightened, I feel furious. I rush out of bed into the street and grab the first stone I find. I will never forget the massacre they committed in the camp.Ã¢â‚¬Â On the ground the children defeat their fear. They gather in the center of the camp in a bullfight tournament with the tanks. Some of them mount the ravaging monsters whilst others throw stones at them. They divide themselves into groups following their pray from one street to another. Catching his breath between launching his projectiles, Fares explains, Ã¢â‚¬Å“the soldiers even chase me in my dreams. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why I run after the tanks, to defeat them and to quench the fear in my heart; we will fight their tanks till the last stone.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The streets are covered with stones and the match continues despite of injuries. When the shooting intensifies, the children take a step forward. They never retreat. Bilal said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“I feel powerful when the soldiers begin shooting. The fear inside us died after the April battle when the Israeli soldiers shelled our camp day and night and destroyed our houses; therefore, there is nothing to be worried about or be afraid of. I challenge the tanks every day.Ã¢â‚¬Â Bassam, who is known on the street as one of the best tank climbers, agrees with Bilal; Ã¢â‚¬Å“I feel powerful when I face the tanks and climb them. I am never afraid and it is my wish to die a martyr.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The children of Jenin have dreams and ambitions that differ from those of other children. Their dreams are not childish about gifts and toys. When you ask them if they are sincere, or if they just have free time since their schools are closed, they become furious. ThaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ar said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“I love to go to school and I want to become a doctor. But to become a martyr has deeper meaning. I pray to God for this.Ã¢â‚¬Â Tallal said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“we do not play, we fight out of awareness. My generation has become capable of understand everything; therefore our fight is part of our peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fight.Ã¢â‚¬Â Majdi With a slingshot in his hand, Majdi said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“when the schools open, we will study. But when the Israeli tanks come, we will fight. What we do is not for fun or a waste of time, we fight for God and our homes. Everyone of us dreams of martyrdom and we praise the martyrs who died for us.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Dirgham said angrily, Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am a good student and I love my school. However, Jihad is another way. Our struggle is a way to say that we believe in our rights, and refuse to abide by the occupation that kills and arrests people. Like all other people of this world I dream of a normal life. The occupation however makes this dream impossible. Thus, our only choice is to fight.Ã¢â‚¬Â The student Aladdin said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“we will fight for a better life without checkpoints, a safe route to school. We fight for to keep our dreams alive, to dream about the future without occupation, invasions, closures, and curfews.Ã¢â‚¬Â
When the Tanks approach, the talk subsides, high spirited the children rush in the direction of the square. To fight. The daily scene repeats itself from dawn till dusk. Then they go back to their houses for a night of peaceless sleep.