Just over a year ago Israel launched a 51 day military assault against Palestine called Operation Protective Edge, where over 2000 Palestinians were killed, along with 66 Israeli soldiers and seven civilians in Israel.

The UN says the vast majority of Palestinian deaths were civilian and figures from previous operations over the past six years in the densely populated Gaza Strip show it is not the first time civilians have paid a heavy price.

Today, violence continues in Gaza and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is claiming more lives.

Exclusively for Asian Sunday, Palestinian journalist Rula Halaiqah shares her personal account of what it is like as a Palestinian living on occupied land.


rula halaiqa
Palestinian journalist Rula Halaiqa

I am scared … I am not ashamed of saying that I walk the streets of my city scared.
I am scared my phone might ring, I answer, somebody hears me speak, and panic if I pull it out my pocket or my bag.
I’m scared this “somebody” might scream and shout “shoot her” and I get hit by a bullet out of nowhere, I’m scared to drive my car (I’m a bad driver)… I’m scared a police officer might not like the way I look at him, the way I walk, or the way I do my hair…
It’s unusual to feel that your life is worth pennies… It’s unusual to feel that you’re terrified and your life is at stake in the streets of the city you love dearly… in the very streets you have memories in… Now we wander the streets without actually wandering… Now we’re scared … on our lives on our neighbours’ lives and on the lives of our loved ones.
Now I smile at almost anyone I see down the street, I smile at people I don’t know, because deep down I know they might be the next victims of oppression, obsession, and hysteria.
Now I’m scared for the lives of everybody I ever knew … now I love my friends like I’ve never loved them before… now I speak with everybody I once stopped speaking to …now I’m more tolerant.
I am scared, I am typing in the letters and I’m trying not to cry, but I am crying… I am crying because I am scared and oppressed, I am crying because I’m in pain…
To be living in Jerusalem, in the most beautiful city on the planet, but not being able to live like a normal human being…
I am addicted to watching news … the sound of the ambulance’s sirens scares me …the police sirens, even my cell-phone’s ringtone scares me…
I zoom every picture I see shared on Facebook for a victim that was shot dead and in cold blood… I memorise their faces, their features; I capture every detail… their clothes… Everything…
We are dying, and yet, all this fear that everybody is living in is somehow being transformed to hatred, insistence, and more holding on to the cause of our people.
I have had enough. I am very strong …and I know exactly what’s going on around me…I know when somebody dies for a good reason and I know when somebody dies for nothing.
I am strong … but I will never let my occupier take away my humanity… I am strong … but I will never let them take away my very simple feelings of fear, sadness, or happiness
I still have hope, for my name is my identity.