LOOKING AT ELEVEN- YEAR-OLD PALESTINIAN GIRL JANNA JIHAD, LOOKING AT HER SKIN AND THE DEPTH OF HER GAZE: THE COLOR OF HER EYES, BLUE OR GREEN, CHANGES ACCORDING TO THE LIGHT. JANNA PLAYS BALL GAMES WITH HER FRIENDS AND HAS FUN ON SOCIAL NETWORKS. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HER AND A PEER? HER JOB: SHE IS CONSIDERED THE YOUNGEST REPORTER IN THE WORLD. EVERY DAY SHE REPORTS ON CLASHES AND INJUSTICES CAUSED BY THE SEPARATION, FROM THE EARLY TWENTIETH CENTURY, BETWEEN ISRAEL AND PALESTINE. THIS IS REDMILK ‘S EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH THE YOUNG REPORTER.
You were born in the US and lived there until you turned three. Why did your family decide to return to Palestine?
I was just born in Florida, but I have not lived there. I visited when I was four years old, now I live in the village of Nabi Saleh with my mother and grandmother.
Has the American way of life influenced your upbringing and education?
I did not live in America, I stayed only a few months, but now I attend an American school in the city of Ramallah, and I’m trying to learn everything to make my life joyful, like all other children of the world.
Did your parents try to change your mind about your job, considering it can be dangerous?
I’m just reporting on what I see around me. My family said how do I protect myself when the Israeli occupation broke into my village, my mother was always beside me.
Is there something you are not allowed to do?
I love swimming, but I cannot go to the seaside without permission, even though it is not far from the village, it’s about 20 km away. I never saw the Mediterranean sea.
What differences do you feel compared to your friends?
There is no difference between me and my friends, but I can I describe what is happening around me and what I feel.
Tell us about your typical day.
I wake up at six, I wash my face and brush my teeth , I get dressed and have breakfast and go to school at 7 o’ clock. If the Israeli occupation army has put out check points it will take me more than 2 hours to get to school and I will be late, but if there are no checkpoints , I won’t be late for school.
I finish school at 2 pm and I get back home at 3. I eat lunch and play with my friends and do my homework . I go to bed at 9 pm.
Have you ever risked your life?
I risked my life when the occupation army remained in the village at night and threw gas bombs on houses, more than once they broke windows and the bombs entered into the house, my grandmother and I went out, on the street, we were intoxicated and I took my grandmother to the hospital. Another time I was playing with my friends on the playground, and the occupation army entered and hurled grenades and live bullets and threw rubber bullets and injured my friend Mohammed in the stomach, they threw tear gas canisters and he slept in the hospital. A girl, Marah, was hit by metal bullet that broke her hand and I was so afraid cried so much. I also saw my friend Mustafa being killed with a tear gas canister in the face and saw blood on the street.
You are eleven years old, what is your greatest wish?
I wish to live in peace and play safely out of my school, in peace like all the children of the world, I do not want to see blood on the road, I do not want to lose someone. And I wish to make Palestine free.
What are your protest “weapons”?
My voice, and my faith in the right to live in peace. And my camera. I hate war, I hate murder and death and blood. I want peace to be in the whole world and will stand with all the good people and they will support me to make a beautiful world to live with everybody.
What do you think of social networks?
They help us publish what is happening around us and keep in touch with other people, places and countries.
What is freedom for you?
I do not know, I have not the freedom to live freely, the right to liberty, I wish to live freely.
Freedom is to live in peace and play and study and go to the hospital and sleep, without seeing blood on the street or being afraid to lose anybody I like and love.
What do you hope for your land and what is your think it will happen in the future?
Palestine is my land and I love it and in the future I wish it will be free like the rest of the world so we will live in peace, love and equality .
(Photos Courtesy of Janna Jihad)