Editor’s note: On November 7, an Israeli court sentenced a 14-year-old Palestinian boy, Ahmed Manasra, to 12 years in prison for his alleged role in a stabbing attack on two residents of an illegal settlement.
“The lack of accountability for the actions of Israeli soldiers and the widespread use of collective punishment against the Palestinians has … led to individual acts of violence. This choice is often a death warrant for the perpetrators and it reflects the utter despair felt by many." Michael Lynk, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967
Good morning bugs,
I miss talking to someone my age. I mean, you are my friends and all; you listen and you’re always around when I am lonely. But it has been so long since I last saw or talked to someone my age.
You know what? If I were not here at the moment, I would probably be doing my homework. Or I might take the day off and play video games instead. Ugh, video games!
I can barely remember any video game; but I do remember how I used to fight with my brother over whose turn it was to play. I recall the feeling of excitement and I can picture us jumping out of joy. I remember the game was colorful and the winner would get so many cookies. When we played, time passed very fast, unlike the time I am spending here.
It’s been only 10 minutes since I started writing this. It felt like 10 hours! When we played video games at home, we would play for hours and it would feel like five minutes.
I have a confession to make. I used to do something horrible with my friends. I used to harm bugs. I know this is terrible and you’re my friends now. I promise I would never do that again and I will stop my friends from doing so once I get out of here. (God! They say that will be 12 years or so!) I am really sorry. I had no idea you could be my only friends. Just seeing you crawling out of the very small window every day and skittering back in the morning means the world to me. Thank you. Please do not leave me.
I wonder what my brothers and sisters are doing. I really miss my family. I know I say that every day to you. I just can’t get my mom’s face out of my head. I don’t know if I want them to forget about me and be happy or to always remember me and be sad. Either way, it kills.
They say I will be stuck in this room for 12 years and it has been only 20 days. When I get out, I will be 26 years old. I’ll miss the rest of school and college. And the girl I love next door will be married by then. Do you think she would wait for me? Do you think any school would accept me back? But I’d be so much taller than the others.
The worst part is, I don’t know why I am here. It is really cold, the food sucks and for the past five days I’ve been daydreaming of playing ball.
Hey, listen before you leave, I want to tell you something. Sometimes I hear people screaming or moaning. But I can’t hear what they’re saying. Is it real or it is just in my head?"
I am going to try to sleep a little. Until tomorrow…
Author’s note: No one knows what is actually going on in Ahmed Manasra’s mind. But we certainly know he is only a child. This is just my humble attempt to imagine his thoughts on his 20th day in Israeli prison. Ahmad’s story reminds me of a 2015 Hollywood film called “Room,” in which a woman and her 5-year-old son are held captive in a small, enclosed space for seven years. In Ahmed’s case, it is not a movie; it is real and he doesn’t have his mom to offer comfort.
Ahmed probably will never get to read what I have written, but I would say this to him: I am sorry you have to live in such a cruel world. I am sorry we, Palestinians, are expressing our anger at home merely by sharing your story on Facebook. I am sorry you once were told that life is beautiful and fair. I am sorry we let corrupt humans get away with this. I am sorry because I know my words will not restore your stolen childhood, make you warm at night or even make the 12 years pass just a little bit faster. Despite knowing that, I am still writing.
Posted November 8, 2016