PALESTINIAN CHILDREN CAUGHT IN ISRAEL’S ‘CAT AND MOUSE’ GAME

It is  commonly said that the all worst nightmares move silently in the dark and wear military uniforms and escaping with light steps along the asphalt street. This night in the village not even the engine sound of the armoured vehicle distracts. The vehicle remains there, without moving, in the night, and next to it there is a street light with a faint light. The man is watching, and with each movement he seems to be counting  steps, three forward, one to the side, and again three paces backwards, without taking his eyes off the houses, with his rifle under his arm, and the barrel kept at eye level, ready to interrupt the silence. It is totally silent, and the silence seems almost begging to be interrupted by a roar, a scream, or a lament, while from behind a curtain a child, one of the numerous children, records the scene with his cell phone.

Palestine, the cat and the mouse, and the trapped children

By Antonietta Chiodo, Translated by Milena Rampoldi and edited by John Catalinotto, Tlaxcala.

He is careful to cause not the least noise, to keep his hand steady, hoping that nobody will see him. This child is afraid, it is afraid of what it will document unconsciously. The soldier lowers his mitre and approaches the gate by opening it easily without causing the least noise.

From the dark of a street disappearing behind the corner of a big, white house another two soldiers appear suddenly, walking speedily. Under their arms they hold a handcuffed boy who is trying to keep up with them. They push him into a vehicle, lowering his head with the palm of the hand, and a couple of seconds later the car’s tailgate closes violently.

Like cats in the night they move lightly, with the gesture of an arm. One of them makes a gesture to a second patrol next there, that everything is OK. The silence is interrupted by the roar of the engines, and the cars disappear along the asphalted streets and then vanish, taking with them another fragment of freedom, a splinter of life who has just become 13 years old.

In the West Bank, what seems to be the plot of an action movie is every day realityd. Here children are the first ones being arrested by Israeli soldiers without any official trail and without any logical reasoning.

Tonight it was his turn, tomorrow it could be mine, everyone thinks here. The project “Pace dei Bimbi” (Peace for Children) has chosen to care about a village between Bethlehem and Hebron, where the incursions and abductions of children are part of their all day lives.

For two months we have written stories invented by us by considering the initial limitations of these children who do not feel free and are afraid of being put on trial. In the context, the mediation offered by their teacher Omar revealed itself to be fundamental. Being in front of a journalist was difficult for them at the beginning, because on one hand they wanted to trust me, and on the other hand they did not think this trust was possible. The days passed by, and their smiles started to take shape, and so did the smile of the small and thin Raiyed, arrested a couple of days ago without charges, dragged from his home, and wrenched away from the arms of his family.

Like many other children, Rayied spent 24 hours in jail, only because his family name is connected to a tradition of resistance against Israeli occupation. I remember that during my encounters the child who is only 13 years old talked about stars. For me, his smile is unforgettable, while he imagined a fabulous story talking about an azure light taking him to another planet. A planet full of peace and magic animals.

Raiyed knows very well that this will not be his only trip to jail, and many other visits like this will follow during his life. However, we perfectly know that psychologically destroying a child by obligating him to live in fear is much more lethal than any bullet. During my stay the moments were not rare where the teacher Omar and I were forced to use makeshift roads because of the blocks around the village because stones had been thrown from under the shadow of the olive trees surrounding the houses. Here people live like trapped mice, while deceitful cats, protected from their own violations of human rights, play dice with these lives and the fear of their victims fuels their thirst for power and injustice.

Shraeh, a Palestinian man, tells us that during the last three days three children between 11 and 13 years were arrested at their homes and also about his brother. He has been in Israeli jail for 16 years now, without authorisation for family visits. And being visited in jail is an undeniable right. It is just the right to look at his eyes, the right to smile at him, and to check his health situation, as we usually do in a so-called “democratic” country.

There are places in this world more oppressed than others, but sometimes here young boys are labelled inattentive. They are said to play with their lives. However, here it is completely normal to imagine a soldier shooting into the chest of a young boy because he threw a stone and to hear words of support for the soldiers. And all this is a sign of the tragic end of human rights. Our world has chosen globalisation, thus replacing the real value of life and innocence with money.

2 Comments

  1. APPAF said,

    August 19, 2017 at 01:57

    […] DESERTPEACE: PALESTINIAN CHILDREN CAUGHT IN ISRAEL’S ‘CAT AND MOUSE’ GAME […]


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