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A child’s dream under occupation

on 19 Comments

Declaration of the Rights of the Child adopted by UN General Assembly Resolution 1386 (XIV) of 10 December 1959 states:

The child shall enjoy all the rights set forth in this Declaration. Every child, without any exception whatsoever, shall be entitled to these rights, without distinction or discrimination on account of race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, whether of himself or of his family.

This includes Palestinian children, I suppose? The story of little Asmaa, who lives in Jabalyia refugee camp, founded in 1948 after the massive ethnic cleansing carried out by Zionist gangs against the indigenous people of Palestine, tells otherwise. The Jabalyia refugee camp is considered the most crowded Palestinian refugee camp ever. The camp had a registered population of 103,646 inhabitants on June 30, 2002. It only covers an area of 1.4 km² making it one of the most densely populated places on earth.

The 11-year old Palestinian girl is fighting several diseases including kidney and spleen problems and bleeding. This, her father explains, caused teeth problem to her. “She might suffer bleeding at anytime. She might be taken to the ICU at anytime,” her father clarifies. “Her teeth medication costs me 36,000 NIS,” her father complains.

In the big world, kids her age dream of a green playground full of toys and cupcakes. But Asmaa’s dream is different. The idea of death, despite her young age, haunts her. After all, there is no guaranteed dream under the occupation, even if it’s doing one last thing before death.

Her dad, feeling the pain of his little daughter in this unjust world, does his best to meet her demands. Making Asmaa’s dream true is all he is thinking about, day and night.

Despite the ordeal her daughter is going through, despite the many diseases she is fighting shoulder by shoulder with her family, Asmaa has a dream. “I want to visit the Holy Land of Mecca to pray for God and ask Him for His mercy,” she aspires. One last prayer before a looming death is what she dreams of, dear world.

What can child rights organizations tell Asmaa? Can they push death away from her family’s door? Can they include her in the well-worded Declaration of the Rights of the Child? Can these organizations give her family an answer?

Sometimes, being sick gives you “privilege” in Palestine over the-same-as-you displaced refugees.

Asma, unlike most of the residents of the besieged costal enclave called the Gaza Strip, can go and visit what is the horizon to most of her neighbors: 1948 Palestine. That’s what most people in the world call today “Israel” but not all Palestinians. She does not go there to “enjoy” that beautiful landscape. The sick-to-death Asmaa goes there twice a month for medical purposes, of course after obtaining a permit from the occupation authorities.

The Ministry of Health covers some expenses, but this does not include all medications she is in desperate need of and her poor family can’t afford.

In his recent trip to the Middle East, the president of the U.S expressed solidarity with the kids of Sederot, a town that is regularly targeted by Palestinian resistance fighters. Can the president also empathize with Asmaa’s dream?

Walaa Ghussein

Walaa Al Ghussein is from Gaza, Palestine. She is a Mondoweiss Editor-at-Large and has worked as a reporter and fixer/translator for international news agencies including Al-Jazeera English, International Business Times, and others.

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19 Responses

  1. jon s on March 31, 2013, 4:26 pm

    Is Walaa Al Ghussein Annie Robbins?

    • annie on March 31, 2013, 8:10 pm

      no jon, i drafted Walaa’s article and since this is the first time she’s contributed to MW we don’t have her user data set up yet (not something i know how to do). this being a holiday it just didn’t happen. we’ll get to it tho, thanks for asking. Walaa Al Ghussein is a real person, @WalaaGh

  2. Citizen on March 31, 2013, 4:32 pm

    It’s time to ask Anne Frank what she thinks about Asmaa’s plight. How about another play that went nowhere like the one done for Rachel Corrie?

    • mcohen on March 31, 2013, 8:33 pm

      Citizen says:
      March 31, 2013 at 4:32 pm

      “It’s time to ask Anne Frank what she thinks about Asmaa’s plight.”

      to ask anne frank or to replace anne frank with asmaa ??

      CITIZEN (of the world ) you are so close ,you can do it,in your mind you have already replaced anne frank with asmaa but the reality is not quite there yet

      the israelis are almost like the nazis———–almost (co close yet so far)

      and then when they do become the new nazis you can do it CITIZEN(of the world)

      you can replace the jewish anne with the palestinian asmaa

      7 degrees of seperation ……MR CITIZEN(of the world)

      thats all thats seperates the israelis from the nazis

      7 degrees

    • jon s on April 1, 2013, 9:18 am

      I wonder what in the world does Asmaa’s situation have to do with Anne Frank.

      Last week the play “My Name is Rachel Corrie” received an award at the Teatroneto festival in TelAviv:

      • K Renner on April 1, 2013, 8:03 pm

        The point is that they are both little girls who lived (are living) in tough situations and for whom death was(is) a very real possibility.

  3. Ecru on March 31, 2013, 5:43 pm

    It’s honestly not worth wasting the effort asking The Invertebrate in Chief to empathise or do anything for ANY Palestinian, even a sickly child. He seems incapable of doing so for poor Americans, why expect him to have more feeling for a people who can’t pay a penny towards his Presidential Library.

    And always remember – compassion towards the Occupied is ALWAYS an existential threat to the Jewish State of Israel. But then, so is a Palestinian child laughing.

  4. mondonut on March 31, 2013, 8:56 pm

    Ecru says: It’s honestly not worth wasting the effort asking The Invertebrate in Chief to empathise or do anything for ANY Palestinian, even a sickly child.
    And what would you have him do? She is already provided access to Israeli hospitals and it appears that nobody is barring access to Mecca. Are we supposed to provide free universal health to Gaza?

    • on April 1, 2013, 5:55 pm

      Let’s turn that question back on you and see if you can come up with the answer all by yourself:

      What would YOU do if the child was a jew and not a Palestinian?

    • kalithea on April 1, 2013, 6:17 pm

      “She is already provided access to Israeli hospitals and it appears that nobody is barring access to Mecca. Are we supposed to provide free universal health to Gaza?”

      Ahhh the putrid stench of Zionist hubris…so invasive.

      YES! Israel SHOULD foot the bill, after all, Israel contaminated the land and water with Irananium-depleted munitions, Israel prevents Gazans from repairing the water/sewage system, Israel prevents repairs/replacement of old hospital equipment and Israel RATIONS Gazan children. It’s no wonder they come down with all these serious illnesses!

      It’s okay don’t pay now; pay later in karmic change. The debt’s already astronomical.

      • mondonut on April 3, 2013, 8:12 am

        kalithea says: Ahhh the putrid stench of Zionist hubris…so invasive.
        Once again, missing the point entirely. The question was what Obama was supposed to do about it.

  5. jon s on April 1, 2013, 2:08 am

    So let’s see:
    Asmaa is a very sick child. I hope noone is saying that Israel is to blame for her medical conditions. (Although I wouldn’t put such an accusation past some of the commenters here…)
    Asmaa is treated twice a month in an Israeli hospital. Yes, an entry permit is needed. Israel seeks to control entrances to its territory, especially from an area under the rule of an implacable enemy
    The Ministry of Health covers some of the expense. Is that the Ministry of Health as in “Israeli Ministry of Health”? It would be nice to say so. We’re not told what “some” of the expense means. 10%? 50%? 90%? Who covers the remainder?
    Instead of highlighting the side that has displayed compassion in this case , we get more “ethnic cleansing”, “Zionist gangs” and such. I wonder what Asmaa’s family has to say about her treatment by “Zionist gangs”.
    Asmaa’s dream is to pray in Mecca. I don’t know whether her medical condition would permit the journey, but it I hope and pray it can be done.

    • kalithea on April 1, 2013, 6:27 pm

      “I hope noone is saying that Israel is to blame for her medical conditions.”

      With all the punishing heavy artillery Israel drops on that over-crowded prison camp contaminating everything for years to come, the medical/food rationing, the dilapidated water/sewage system…damn straight, I’m accusing!

      “but it I hope and pray it can be done.” Oh right…after or before you’re done with the hypocrisy?

    • K Renner on April 1, 2013, 8:01 pm

      your false pity is nauseating.

      Yes, those living in the Gaza strip ought to kiss the feet of the Israelis because sick people are “allowed” to be treated at Israeli hospitals.

      This generosity is too taxing? Then lift the blockade, and stop murdering people in the Gaza strip arbitrarily. That way, maybe they can rebuild some of their hospitals and be able to treat sick people more effectively.

      • jon s on April 2, 2013, 7:21 am

        K. Renner, So a sick Palestinian child is treated in Israel – and Israel should be condemned and villified.
        I wonder what you would have said if Israel had refused treatment…

      • K Renner on April 3, 2013, 12:30 pm

        You didn’t read anything I said, did you?

  6. kalithea on April 1, 2013, 6:45 pm

    It is such a staggering, abominable injustice that Palestinian children through no fault of their own are born into the misery that Zionists created, and that they must struggle daily to survive on contaminated soil, inhale contaminated air and drink contaminated water in their camps repeatedly bombed with depleted uranium and deprived of clean water by Israel while Zionists and their seed live it up next door on land where once Palestinian children used to play and run free.

    I’m so thankful I wasn’t born under that yoke of that kind of oppression, but I hope and pray and I have faith that one day Palestinian children will run free on their land again and there will be hell to pay for this crime against humanity. May I live to witness it.

  7. Sherri Munnerlyn on April 3, 2013, 5:58 am

    A heartbreaking story, and we read of the suffering of so many children in the Occupation and feel so powerless to stop any of it. Here is Asmaa and her story, and just a few days ago I was looking at a photo of two little girls whose grandfather was dying of cancer in an Israeli prison, after being denied medical treatment to save his life. WITHIN days, just yesterday in fact, I read a news story reporting their grandfather had died, they were never allowed to visit him, they never even met him. HE WAS denied visits with his four kids for over a decade by The Jewish State. AND the Occupation goes on and on, hurting and killing more and more children. THE faces of the children haunt us, but at the same time they inspire us to keep speaking against the Occupation and keep taking stands to oppose it and keep praying for these children, these beautiful children we have grown to love and care about so dearly.

  8. Yousef M. Aljamal on April 5, 2013, 4:20 am

    Israel denied thousands of Palestinians entry who were trying to cross to the West Bank for medical purposes, leave alone not allowing ALL Palestinians to travel there to meet family and friends except if they provide a medical report of a first-degree relative who is dying!! They denied my 7 year old entry last year, only allowed my mother in after 13 years of being stuck just for 4 days!!! My eldest is just an example of the 450 killed by Israel’s siege. Read my article here How Israel’s siege on Gaza killed my sister shame on you!

    Malcolm X “You don’t stick a knife in a man’s back nine inches and then pull it out six inches and say you’re making progress … No matter how much respect, no matter how much recognition, whites show towards me, as far as I am concerned, as long as it is not shown to everyone of our people in this country, it doesn’t exist for me.”

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