The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

Eight-year-old Aya Fayad shot dead as she rode her bicycle

The Palestine Monitor, 2 Sep 2003

Aya Fayad was one little girl out of one million eighty-five thousand Palestinian children, who should be having their first day back at school today. Aya is not having hers because she was murdered; thousands of others will not have theirs, because of some 400 Israeli checkpoints and road blocks, which prevent passage between cities and villages.

According to her mother, Om Isam, little eight year-old Aaya was excitedly awaiting the first day of the school year. She was delighted with her new books, and for days she had insisted on carrying her new school bag, and wearing the new clothes her mother had bought in preparation. But Om Isam’s youngest daughter did not go to school with her five sisters and friends today, because she was shot on Saturday night as Israeli soldiers began shooting from the Nave Karim settlement into the Anum Sarwi neighborhood, in Khan Yunis, where Aaya was riding her bicycle. Aaya died instantly.

393 Palestinian students have been killed since the beginning of the Intifada, and 2991 have been injured by the Israeli occupying forces. Most children suffer from some kind of trauma or fear, not just as a result of the treatment they encounter at the checkpoints but because of the horrors they have witnessed and experienced, often, this is the death of their friends.

The city of Qalqiliya, for instance has approximately 26, 000 students in the city and surrounding villages. The Director of the Ministry of Education is particularly concerned about the problems faced by these students, and their teachers who must pass through checkpoints to move to and from school. The Director, Khalil Abu Libdi explained how because the city is surrounded on three sides, everyone is forced to pass through one checkpoint meaning people may wait for many hours. The Ministry of Education has, he explains, come to an agreement with the Israeli District Coordination Office so that teachers are given special identification in order to ease restrictions on them passing through the checkpoints, but often these IDs amount to nothing, as the attitude of the Israeli Soldier on the day can override any Palestinian documentation.

Naim Abu al-Houmous, Palestinian Minister of Education has little doubt that the year ahead will be another hard year, how can it be anything but, when it begins with the killing of an eight year old little girl.

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