See Palestine from children’s eyes

How kids have been resisting occupation

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An illustration of Lama Jamous, a nine-year-old Palestinian journalist, in her press uniform featuring a protective hat and vest that says “press.”
ILLUSTRATION: Jill Baccay / The Peak

By: Riley Brown, SFU Student & Petra Chase, Arts & Culture Editor

Content warning: mentions of genocide and violence.

Editor’s note: One word in the introduction of the web version of this article has been updated on March 5, 2024, as a previous version stated, “over half of the Palestinian population that have been killed, displaced, and starved [ . . . ] are children.” We removed the word “over” to accurately reflect the data. This does not impact the sentiment of the statement.

Children make up 47% of Palestine’s population, and Gaza’s median age was 18 in 2020. The low life expectancy of 75.7, almost a decade below the life expectancy in Israel, is because of Israel’s consistent systemic violence, which includes ongoing blockades limiting basic health needs like food and medicine. This means half of the Palestinian population that have been killed, displaced, and starved by Israel’s most recent genocidal bombardment of Gaza are children. Here are some materials by children or focused on the perspective of resilient kids.

Lama Jamous (Gaza’s youngest journalist)

Lama Jamous (as seen in illustration) is a nine-year-old Palestinian girl who’s captured the hearts of people worldwide. With 860,000 followers on Instagram, she gained popularity after Israel’s most recent ongoing genocidal bombardment of Gaza, when she fled from her home. She says she dreamed of becoming a journalist so she could share Palestinian stories and bring attention to the injustices of the occupation. Featured on Al-Jazeera, she conducts interviews with other children, and shows a day in the life of Palestinian refugees in Gaza’s city of Rafah, including things like playing, looking for food and water, and celebrating birthdays. While a nine-year-old should not have to do such things, she continues to post from Rafah amid Israel’s horrific ground assault. Follow Jamous on Instagram at @lama_jamous9. 

I Am From Palestine (book and short film)

This award-winning children’s animation, based on a book by Palestinian writer and activist Rifk Ebeid, is told from the perspective of Saamidah, a Palestinian child going to school in America. When she can’t find her homeland on the map, her teacher heartbreakingly assumes she’s from Israel. The animation and Saamidah’s spirit come to life when she goes home and her father assures her of the city she’s from, Yaffa (colonially known as Tel Aviv). Her father’s storytelling transports her to its “golden majestic beaches” and a market full of kindhearted people presenting cultural foods and artifacts, such as the traditional embroidered keffiyeh scarf. The beautifully painted colours display as a traditional folklore song by Palestinian dance troupe El-Funoun plays. The heartwarming joy and pride this brings Saamidah demonstrates the importance of passing down traditions and history to Palestinian children around the world.

Gaza Youth Choir 

The Gaza Youth Choir is a beacon of hope in Gaza. Their performances are infused with deep emotion, ranging from heartfelt yearning for a brighter future to spirited defiance against oppression. The harmonies combine with traditional Palestinian instruments, such as the oud, a wooden-string instrument considered one of the oldest instruments and “king of the instruments” originating from the Middle East. These, as well as “ney (flute), khanoon (table harp), double bass, and percussion” capture the unwavering spirit of Palestinian resilience and leave the audience moved. Subscribe to Gaza Youth Choir’s Youtube channel to listen.

Obaida (short film) 

Obaida shows the experience of a Palestinian child being violently arrested by Israeli Occupation Forces. Israel is the only state in the world that automatically prosecutes children in military courts, which has a conviction rate of 99%. Every year, 5–700 children go through the military detention system where they regularly face inhumane treatment and torture. Obaida explores children’s experiences of being arrested, detained, interrogated, and imprisoned.

A Caged Bird Sings (mini documentary)

This short film follows the lives of three women in Nabi Saleh, Palestine, which is a small village in Area C of the West Bank. 11-year-old Janna Jihad, or Janna Tamimi, has been sharing snapshots of Palestinian livelihood since she was seven years old. She’s related to resistance icons Bassem al-Tamimi and Ahed Tamimi. Now 17, Janna continues to report on the Israeli occupation and advocate for human rights in Palestine. 

East Jerusalem: Sharing our house with Israeli settlers in Sheikh Jarrah (documentary)

This blog-style documentary is filmed and narrated by 12-year-old twins, Muna and Muhammed, who live in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem. They document their family’s experience of settlers taking control of their home. View the video on the Guardian’s YouTube.

Parents for Palestine YVR (group)

Parents for Palestine YVR is a group of Palestinian, Indigenous, Jewish, and allied parents who seek to foster cultural understanding and organize people in pursuit of Palestinian liberation. They host family-friendly events, many of which centre the experiences of Palestinian youth. The group recently held “Storytime for Palestine” for children under five and a solidarity kite-building event, inspired by the fact that kites hold significance for children of Gaza as a symbol of joy, freedom, and hope. On March 10 at 11:00 a.m., they’re holding a kite-lifting event at Creekside Park by Science World. Events like these are meant to “foster cultural understanding and unity”. Follow the group on Instagram at @parentsforpalestineyvr

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