In the recent episode of Israeli violence, the youth from Palestine and abroad proved that they have not forgotten the cause of freedom. TRT World spoke to several young men and women in the city of Jerusalem.

On May 18, fifteen-year-old Malak Abdallah put the Keffiyeh on her shoulders and told her father she "will attend the demonstration whether you like it or not." Because of her young age, her parents at first refused to allow her to attend a huge protest called for in support of the Gaza strip, Al-Aqsa mosque, and Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood who are at risk of expulsion from their homes. 

The demonstration was planned in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority. 

She said her father was afraid of confrontations and that she might get injured, but Malak, who dreams of becoming a doctor one day, is known in her family for being stubborn. 

 She likes to break gender stereotypes and do things that are socially acceptable for Palestinian boys. She is a strong-willed girl. 

"I confronted him and told him that I would participate in the demonstration, and my mother supported me, and we all went to the demonstration with my siblings."

"You can see the extent of people's solidarity with the Palestinian cause," said Malak, "It is my cause too, I should also do something for my cause and take part in the general strikes and demonstrations."

The Israeli occupation and its violent tactics against Palestinians are the reason why youngsters like Malak Abdallah have come to the fore.
The Israeli occupation and its violent tactics against Palestinians are the reason why youngsters like Malak Abdallah have come to the fore. (Courtesy of: Malak Abdallah / TRTWorld)

In the past, demonstrations with the Israeli military were exclusive to men, women were rarely at the forefront of confrontations. But the times have changed. The recent resistance displayed by Palestinians in unison from Gaza to the West Bank to Jerusalem and abroad is a strong indicator that the spark of freedom from the Israeli occupation is very much alive in the younger generation. 

"We didn't forget our cause," said Malak with great enthusiasm, "the biggest example that young people are united is when I participated in the demonstration, there was a high percentage of teenagers of my age. This indicates the awareness of this generation that wants to live in dignity," she concluded. 

Upside down

Hiba Mousa, a third-year student at Al-Quds university majoring in Public Relations, says despite what everyone says, young Palestinians are not living in a vacuum, and they are fully aware of their cause. She says the young generation has different ways to fight the occupation. 

Hiba argues that the great interaction of young people her age on social media, and their ability to communicate and speak the same language helped garner support from all over for the Palestinian cause.

"We are the social media generation, and we spend a lot of time there and see the amount of support and global solidarity with the Palestinian people, our interaction on social media platforms helped get much-needed support for Gaza."

Social media platforms are quickly becoming the new battleground for online activism, fueled by a new generation of tech-savvy Palestinians like Hiba Mousa.
Social media platforms are quickly becoming the new battleground for online activism, fueled by a new generation of tech-savvy Palestinians like Hiba Mousa. (Courtesy of: Hiba Mousa)

The older, and more traditional Palestinians have criticized the younger generation saying they are out of touch.

"At their age, I was out every day doing activities against the occupation," said 50-year-old Na'em Morrar. 

"I truly believe that their priorities are upside-down."

Morrar was 30 years old when the second Intifada erupted in the early 2000s.  He says going out and resisting was the only thing they could do. He says he had dreams like everyone else but still he prioritised fighting to gain freedom.

Hiba vehemently rejects Morrar's assertion, saying that their ways of resistance, not mirroring the older generation's, do not make them less Palestinian.

"Everyone questioned us and called us the Tik Tok generation, and that we are spoiled, but we have proven that we are a conscious generation, and we know our cause and we will not forget it. Our interests are not limited to going out and shopping, but rather the opposite."

Hiba says her parents "understandably" forbade her from attending any demonstrations, but she was able to convince them why it was important for her. 

"When I came back my father told me he was proud of me," she said with a big smile. 

Amal Abbad, a Jerusalemite, echoes Hiba's sentiment saying resisting the occupation has evolved and young Palestinians are utilizing new methods to tell the world about their plight. 

"I'm also resisting when I take to Instagram and Facebook to expose the occupation and its iron fist measures against us and the oppression we live under." 

Amal says this new way should not replace the old methods of resisting, but it should go hand in hand.

"My father threw stones in the first Intifada. They participated in massive demonstrations, but things have changed. We must use the new technology to our benefit."

Jerusalem and colonialism

Samer Abu Aisha was born and raised in the old city of Jerusalem. He feels that over the years the Israeli state has grown paranoid with the presence of Palestinian youth in Jerusalem. "There are persistent attempts by the occupying forces to deport the Palestinians, and especially the youth from Jerusalem in various ways," Abu Aisha told TRT World

Abu Aisha dislikes being described as an activist and says he never sought that label. For him, all Jerusalemites are activists since they defy the Israeli occupation. 

"We Palestinians in Jerusalem number at about 390000. All Jerusalemites are political activists, including the children, women, and elders. We live under occupation and you see the occupation directly every day which creates an activist from you unintentionally."

He says the youth in the city play a pivotal role in protecting its holy sites, safeguard homes from the settler threat and also support the residents who face settler violence and are forcibly expelled from their homes in neighbourhoods like Sheikh Jarrah.

"Jerusalem is the reason for the struggle against colonialism, and therefore we stand with the people of Sheikh Jarrah not only in solidarity but also because we are the children of the cause." 

Abu Aisha, 34, says he was arrested by the Israeli occupying forces several times in the past. The longest time he was illegally detained was 20 months. He was booked on the charges of travelling to an 'enemy country' and defying a court order which had instructed him to stay away from Jerusalem, his hometown.

"I travelled to Lebanon to participate in a youth conference, they [Israel] didn’t like it. The Zionists are not aware that Lebanon and Lebanese are our brothers and an extension of us."

He says he was also arrested after coming back from his honeymoon in Greece. 

Samer Abu Aisha has been arrested by the Israeli police on several occassions.
Samer Abu Aisha has been arrested by the Israeli police on several occassions. (Courtesy of: Samer Abu Aisha)

Abu Aisha moves from one demonstration to the next, and from one solidarity march to another. It is hard to find a meeting time with him since he's always on the move. 

"You want things done right and you have to do them yourself," he says as he gets ready to move to Damascus Gate for a protest outside the old city amid the month of Ramadan. He says the Palestinian youth has lost faith in the political elite made up of older people. 

"Young people are tired of the entire political elite and the low ceiling of the struggle that has not achieved any victory and therefore we have lost confidence in them," Abu Aisha said. 

He is betting on the new generation that "understands how to communicate with the world" using new tools of interaction.

The tech-oriented generation, he says, has proven to the world that they are able to express themselves eloquently even on fast-paced mediums like Tik Tok. 

"All these means of social communication are better than those used by the Palestinian foreign minister, whose name no one knows."

Abu Aisha says his goal is not to personalize the Palestinian struggle but engage with it in different ways. 

"Simply, as Jerusalemites and Palestinians, we feel that there is a burden on our shoulders, and we want to defend every stone in the city, and we don't want what happened to our parents and grandparents to happen to us."

Abu Aisha couldn’t help but remind a group of young Palestinians sitting at the steps of Damascus Gate, that Israel is betting on them to forget their history. Whenever he finds an opportunity to address the younger generation, he explains the problem like a passionate school teacher, piling argument upon argument. He often says that Israelis think once the older generation of Palestinians passes away, the younger one will stop resisting and move on.  

"Yes, some of the adults died, but the young are the rightful owners of the cause and will not allow another Nakba 'catastrophe' to happen as it happened at our great grandfathers' time," he said. 

Source: TRT World