Janna Jihad Ayyad believes it is her duty to record Israeli injustices carried out throughout the occupied West Bank and beyond.
Palestinian Janna Jihad Ayyad, who turned 10 this month, counts herself among the youngest journalists in the world.
A resident of the village of Nabi Saleh in the occupied West Bank, Janna, along with many other local children, regularly participates in demonstrations against Israel’s illegal occupation. She began making videos of what was happening in her village when she was only seven-years-young.
“Not a lot of journalists are sending our message from Palestine to the world, so I thought, ‘why not send my message and show them what is happening in my village,” Janna told reporters.
While there are no journalists in Janna’s family, her uncle, Bilal Tamimi, is a photographer who has documented the violence of Israeli soldiers in Nabi Saleh. Janna was partly inspired by him.
“I talk about what is happening,” Janna said. “I see an occupation, soldiers, cannons and police. They do a lot of things to make us go from our land.”
The deaths of two men in her village – her cousin, Mustafa Tamimi, and another uncle, Rushdie Tamimi – served as a trigger for her to begin documenting everything that was happening in Nabi Saleh. Mustafa was killed by a gas canister and Rushdie was fatally shot in his kidney.
Since then, Janna has expanded her work, travelling with her family and using her mother’s iPhone to shoot videos in Jerusalem, Hebron, Nablus and neighbouring Jordan. Her videos show everything from people being detained at checkpoints, protest marches, and violence against innocent Palestinian children.
As a child, she feels she has an advantage over adult reporters: “The soldiers catch the big journalists and take their cameras.”
On her Facebook page, Janna describes herself as a news personality and has attracted more than 22,000 followers so far. Her page includes several videos of her participating in demonstrations and confronting Israeli soldiers. Her reports are delivered in both Arabic and English.
“My camera is my gun,” Janna explains. “The camera is stronger than the gun. I can send my message to small people, and they can send it to others.”
Her mother, Nawal Tamimi, says she is both scared for her young daughter but also extremely proud.
“I am proud of my daughter because as a child, she tells her message to the world. She shares her fears, her emotions, what she feels, and the problems of attending school. But I am also scared for her when the army comes in the middle of the night and tear-gases our house, and we wake up to smoke. They attack our people who demonstrate against the illegal settlers and the Israeli occupation.” Nawal told reporters.
Janna’s uncle, Bilal, says it has been difficult to accept Janna’s work. “She should be playing and studying, but in our life it’s not a choice,” he said, noting that the family has a history of activism dating back to 1948.
“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.”
Asked what an ideal world would look like to her, Janna, for once, responds like a 10-year-old: “I want it to be pink.”
When she gets older, Janna says she would like to work for CNN or Fox News because “they do not talk about Palestine, and I want to make reports on Palestine”.
Certainly an amazing and inspiring child for is working towards becoming the voice for the voiceless.