Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Crackdown on Aida camp‘s youth by Israeli occupation

By Jessica Purkiss - April 01, 2013
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Aida camp] [arrests] [youth] [Israeli army]

US President Barack Obama’s visit to the historic town of Bethlehem on Friday March 22 only lasted for 30 minutes. His short visit did not include a trip to the refugee camp Aida in Beit Jala, Bethlehem. The camp lies next to the Apartheid Wall and as a result is often invaded by Israeli soldiers. 

On February 25, two young boys were shot during a protest in Aida, including 12 year old Mohammad Khalid Al-Kirdi. This comes after 15 year old Saleh Elamareen was shot dead by a suspected internationally outlawed “dumdum” bullet in January.

On March 10 more than a hundred occupation soldiers entered Aida Camp at 4 am. They arrested 6 people: Mohammed Alazraq, Saed Abo Aker, Amjed Khawaja, Firas Nasrallah, Yousef Darwish, and Moath Abo Aker. The youths are all aged between 18 and 26 years old.

In one single month, 16 youths were arrested from Aida refugee camp, bringing the number of arrests since November’s Gaza attack to a total of 18.  The youngest is fifteen year old Mustassim Al Amer. 

In the latest arrests, the Israeli soldiers took prominent Palestinian activist Mohammed Al Azraq. He works closely with the Lajee Refugee Centre in Aida Camp, coordinating youth programs and  organizing activities, and was planning a trip to Scotland and London to educate people on the Palestinian cause. He has made previous visits for raising awareness to Ireland. 

As a former political prisoner Mohammed wrote on the reality of life for Palestinian detainees: 

Every morning in prison, prisoners wake up and go to the small window of their cells to look at the birds flying. Looking for some bread we have left for them on the windows, the birds are the only ones we can talk to from the outside world, and they are the only ones who can listen to us….. Even if we were small birds and could fly we would be shot by the snipers, because you can fly free as a bird but you can’t if you are Palestinian. If you are Palestinian there is something waiting for you, to stop you dreaming of being a bird.”

Mohammed was released on Wednesday 27 March. 

On February 20 the Israeli soldiers arrested Saed Al-Azza. Saed was in his final year of training as a chef. More than 20 soldiers arrived at his family home at 3.40 am. Until now, the family have still not heard what the charges against Said are. 

Aida camp is witnessing a brutal crackdown on its young residents. The youth are the beacons of change in every society, as they represent the future. When Israel arrests youth on unknown charges they are robbing them of an education, of the right to a family life and of Palestine’s right to their tomorrow. 

As a march organised by the youth group Palestinians for Dignity took place on March 19 in the streets of Ramallah to protest against the arrival of Obama it seems that however hard Israel cracks down on the youth of Palestine, they will not be able to quell the resistance spirit for these young Palestinians in their fight against the occupation. 

In Mohammed Al Azraq’s own words, “We will always be the torches of freedom in the darkness of apartheid.”

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