"My name is Hala Esam Hajjaj and I am ten years old. I am in the fourth grade class.

I am in the top ten of my class and my favourite subjects are Islamic and Arabic education.

I also like drawing and when the teacher asked to draw pictures of incursions in class I drew an eye instead and then turned over the page and sketched incursions.

I drew the eye as we can see the harm the [Israeli] soldiers have done to us. We have never done anything to them. We are powerless people who want to be able to defend our homeland, Palestine.

The eye can see how our people are killed, the tanks and bulldozers that have razed our lands.

I always hear the sound of tanks and warplanes at sunset and during the night. I can’t sleep at night where there is gunfire. Where there is shooting, we go down to stay at my granny’s.

It normally takes me between half an hour and an hour to arrive at school. But sometimes, I hear explosions of mortar shells in the morning while I’m on my way to school.

One day I heard about 25 mortar shells so I did not attend afternoon classes.

Another day we awoke early at four in the morning because the school bell is at seven. There were [Palestinian] fighters outside with something like a box and a mortar projectile so my father told us to take off our uniforms and not go to school.

'Fear is everywhere'

Bombing often takes place near school. One day we heard gunfire as a jeep was exploded at the gate of al-Akhtal school nearby.

We used to climb in trees and play outside. Now we can not play outside so much as fear is everywhere.

After Maghreb prayer, we go out for two or two hours and a half and then come back home as we are frightened.

Soldiers often come to our home and to our school. One day they knocked at the door where we were upstairs while my granny was downstairs.

I was little kid and studying at first grade. Another day they bulldozed my aunt's house, planted a bomb and then they circled it with wires.

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When the soldiers storm the school we do not go there.

They have raided the school many times and fired shots inside. Once they took Hussam, my classmate, upstairs and began beating him.

 

The last time they entered, they wrote on the school’s walls, 'We will be back'. I think they meant they will come back again to demolish it as they said they would not let the school run any longer and that they would bulldoze it

I'm sad as the soldiers have demolished our houses and it took us long time to reconstruct them. It takes us a year to get back our houses to normal. It is incredible.

I study hard at school and at home because I would like to be either a fashion designer or Islamic education teacher when I am older. I would also love to be a hairstylist.

I have hope. I am not like others here who have lost hope

We used to resist. If we had weapons, tanks or aircrafts, we could do so. The soldiers are frightened by us. Though they have the arms, they are scared.  

I have two wishes; the first is to see Palestine liberated and the second is to see it happy."

Source: Al Jazeera