Palestinian I am
Everyone wants to have an identity. This is the right of every individual. An individual has the right to choose who they are. The Israeli authorities believe there is no such thing as a Palestinian. In many ways, identity is the most fundamental thing in each subject's life and gives to every person a feeling of belonging and location. For me, my nationality is my identity, my land is my identity.
On 7 June 1967, the Israeli army completed its occupation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Ignoring the United Nations and the international community's position and violating international law, the Israeli government unilaterally decided on 25 June 1967 to annex occupied East Jerusalem. Israel considers Palestinians who live in Jerusalem as mere residents in the state of Israel and not citizens. Thus, they have no rights as citizens, but have to shoulder the burden of residency.
When I was eighteen years old, I applied for my first travel document; I completed an application form on which I stated my nationality as a Palestinian. When I received my travel document back from the Israeli authorities, had been changed to Jordanian. I have no choice but to carry, until this day, a travel document, stating my nationality that is not of my choosing and one that I feel does not represent me.
Ten years ago when the peace process first started, I like many other Palestinians was ready to give peace a chance. As the peace process developed, the events that followed filled me with worry; the worry of losing my city, Jerusalem, and the right of exiled Palestinians to return to their homeland. The days went by and in my eyes things only got worse; more of the land was taken, more Israeli settlements appeared on Palestinian land, more killings.
On the 28th of March 2002, I was in Ramallah when the major Israeli Incursion happened, I was shocked; everything around me looked so different. Every street and square I visited was dark and empty; no one was in the streets that day except the Israeli army and its tanks. I felt depressed and cold. The only Palestinian I met on the road that day was an old man. He was shot dead. I never new his name, but I had seen him walking around those same streets before. That night I could not take away his face from my memory, and many questions without answers rushed inside my head. It was that night that my hopes for peace died. Rula Halawan;