Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 July 2019

The world's youngest journalist shares Palestine struggle in Dubai

Janna Jihad, 12, told the Arab Media Forum in Dubai she has to be a voice for Palestine children dreaming of a normal life

Janna Jihad, 12, is bringing the plight of her people to the world through her intrepid journalism. Courtesy Wam
Janna Jihad, 12, is bringing the plight of her people to the world through her intrepid journalism. Courtesy Wam

A Palestinian activist who is the world's youngest registered journalist at the age of just 12 has vowed to be the voice of children in her conflict-hit homeland.

During an address at the Arab Media Forum in Dubai, Janna Jihad told how she decided at the age of seven she needed to "show the world what was happening" to people living under Israeli occupation.

She felt the grim realities of life in her West Bank vilage of Nabi Saleh were going unreported by global media, forcing her to fill the void.

"Journalism is my only weapon to show the world what the Palestinian children are going through in Palestine," she told the audience.

She reflected on harrowing memories of troops firing tear gas as she hid under a table, fearing for her safety.

"I still remember when I was only three years old and was petrified when the Israeli troops attacked our home and were firing tear gas everywhere.

"I had to hide under the table, but the situation was getting worse. As the gas filled the house, we couldn’t breathe and had to escape through the windows to hide in our neighbours’ home."

She was touched by tragedy at the tender age of five when a close friend died after being struck by a tear gas bomb, she told the forum.

"This experience was traumatising to me and many of the children in my village. When I was five, I lost one of my close friends. I saw him die in front of me after a tear gas bomb was thrown at him."

Jihad, who had been participating in weekly marches along with other community members, said she began narrating stories and capturing video footage of Israeli soldiers firing tear gas and rubber bullets at people.

"When I was seven, I felt that the world should know what was happening on the ground and what the children were experiencing at such a young age.

"The Palestinian cause was not receiving enough media attention, so I took my mother’s phone and began filming everything. My mother later uploaded it on social media."

"As children, we just want to live in peace like other children in the world."

Janna, who now has a global following, has won international acclaim for her journalistic role in covering the daily struggle of Palestinians.

This year’s Arab Media Forum, which concluded on Thursday, was held under the theme “From now to the future”.

It featured 75 speakers and 200 prominent media figures, who gathered at Dubai World Trade Centre over the course of the two day event.

Updated: March 30, 2019 09:38 AM

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