Ramallah, Palestine - “Why are you moving to Palestine? Isn’t there war over there?”
Not knowing how to answer this question that my 5th grade best friend proposed made me- many years later- appreciative to have moved to Palestine that summer, despite not accepting the idea of moving for the first few years.
My first memory of facing the occupation firsthand, not to count the abundance of checkpoints accompanying our infrequent trips to AlQuds, was that of a 6th grade fieldtrip to Areeha (Jericho). The bus we were riding was stopped at a checkpoint, and a fully armed Israeli occupation soldier came aboard, looked expressionlessly at numerous pairs of 11 year old eyes, and then got off. Of course, hyperactive girlish fury accompanied this incident in its aftermath, but the explanation is simple: the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank is designed to make every aspect of life simply unbearable-made even more so by the iron grip collaborating within the Israeli occupation that was created after the dreaded Oslo accords of 1993; complete dominance was handed over to the Palestinian Authority, thus paving way for a contingent relationship between the Occupiers and those who suppress anyone who dares to stand up against them.
I live in Ramallah, occupied West Bank. This city centre life, home of the PA, has resulted in becoming an isolated area, cut off from the surrounding nearby village life and the popular resistance taking place in them. Due to the Israeli occupation, the West Bank and Gaza have been separated from each other, a situation not made any easier by the disgraceful lack of Palestinian leadership unity, and the Israeli segregation dividing these two areas from the rest of Palestine (’48) is further frustrating. I, branded with a West Bank ID card, am not eligible to enter Gaza for regular family visits, and vice versa. Further still, entering ’48 Palestine with the shores of Qisariya and boat rides in Akka I rightfully had the chance of experiencing due to (once upon a time) owning a visa, has been misshapen from holding on to a right, into holding on to a dream.
Gone are the visas, and gone are the visits to Palestine’s capital with them, however occasional they were, due to the humiliating and exhausting Israeli checkpoints operating the routes. Instead, my eldest brother and father have been issued with Gaza ID cards since 2009 and cannot, in turn, enter the West Bank where my mother, sister, brother and I, dubbed with West Bank ID cards, are situated (and vice versa). My family, one family in thousands and thousands who are in the same or similar situation, is a victim of Israel’s apartheid occupation law.
Despite and because of all of this, by majority, people realize that they are up against an occupation within an occupation; the will to resist occupation has turned into an apathetic one. The PA has tightened its hold on the West Bank, suppressing any forms of resistance against the higher occupiers; the Zionists. The NGOs investing in a delusional vision of a “Palestinian state” are also to blame for extracting popular resistance from their agendas.
Yet there has been change. The fear barrier of provoking the PA has been shattered. Protests have made their way to the PA Headquarters in Ramallah in objection towards the futile negotiations with the higher occupiers. However small, mobilization on the ground has been a welcome adjustment to the (however stomach-churning it is to say) acceptance of the current political situation gripping the metropolis, fake police state aspiration of Mahmoud Abbas’.
I like to say that Palestine has been occupied numerously for its beauty, for there is no place as breathtaking as the motherland. All the checkpoints, sieges, oppression, skunk water, colorful ID cards, Israeli products, tear gas, rapid building of settlements on annexed Palestinian land cannot steal the beauty and freedom of Palestine, because Palestine is more than their occupation; much, much more. And that is why the occupation shall not persist for long.