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Meet Jana Jihad – Palestine’s Youngest Amateur Reporter

While most 10-year-olds are busy playing games, learning the ropes at school and enjoying their childhood, Janna Jihad risks her life reporting on the Palestinian – Israeli conflict in the occupied West Bank, in an effort to raise awareness to the plight of her people.

A resident of Nabi Saleh, a small Palestinian village north of the West Bank city of Ramallah, Janna has been a witness to the tragedies of war from a very young age. Her mother, Nawal, says she was traumatized after one of her friends was shot dead by the Israeli army. “He was older than her but used to always be friendly and nice to her so that she became attached to him. When she saw his blood on the ground, she became frantic.”  She used to pen her feelings and frustrations in a locked journal every night, but the deaths of two of her relatives – her cousin, Mustafa Tamimi, and another uncle, Rushdie Tamimi – inspired her to get involved and reveal the injustice the people in her village are being subjected to.

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Photo: Janna Jihad/Facebook

Janna’s amateur journalist career began when she was only seven years old. Using her mother’s iPhone, she began recording protests staged by locals and international peace activists, and the reaction of the Israeli army. Although professional journalists are often present at this kind of events, Janna feels they don’t always report everything, so she considers it her responsibility to show the world the whole picture. To do this, she posts her videos on various social media platforms, like YouTube, Facebook or Snapchat. “I want the world to know that we are not terrorists and to expose the army’s vio­lence against us,” she told The Arab Weekly. Her Facebook page alone currently has over 80,000 likes.

Janna’s mother says she is both proud of her, but also very scared for her safety.  “I am proud of my daughter because as a child, she tells her message to the world. She shares her fears, what she feels, and the problems of attending school,” Nawal told Al Jazeera. “But I am scared for her, when the army comes in the middle of the night and tear-gases our house, and we wake up in smoke … They attack our people who demonstrate against the settlers and the Israeli occupation.”

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Photo: Janna Jihad/Facebook

The girl’s uncle, Bilal, shares Nawal’s fears, but also feels that Palestinian children have no real choice. “She should be playing and studying, but in our life it’s not a choice,” he says. “We must teach our children to not accept humiliation and not be cowards. We are under occupation. We cannot teach our children silence; they must fight for their freedom.”

After rising to internet fame in 2014, and being hailed as one of the world’s youngest amateur reporters, Janna Jihad has expanded her work, traveling with her mother to places like Jerusalem, Hebron, Nablus and Jordan to shoot video reports and post them online.

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Photo: Janna Jihad/Facebook

Janna says her dream is to study professional journalism at Harvard and get a job at CNN or FOX News, because “they do not talk about Palestine, and I want to make reports on Palestine”.

Seeing Janna in front of the camera speaking about the Palestinian – Israeli conflict and the atrocities taking place in the West Bank on a daily basis, it’s easy to forget she is just a 10-year-old girl. However, the playful child does come out, when the circumstances are right. Asked what an ideal world would look like to her, Janna says “I want it to be pink”.

 

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