“From the beginning of my studies in law, I had an interest in international law. Hirak fostered my interest and exceeded my expectation in addressing the specific competencies towards a wider experience in international advocacy.”
Batoul is a 23 years old young woman from Abu Dis- East Jerusalem who studied law in Al-Quds University where she was introduced to international humanitarian law and human rights. However, she described the knowledge she gained in the university as minimal and lacks direction in terms of tools and mechanisms to address violations of International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law on the ground.
Batoul is one of the youth beneficiaries of the Hirak (In motion) project that is implemented in East Jerusalem to reinforce youth leadership and activism to respond for the needs of the local communities and advocate for Jerusalemites rights under occupation within the framework of the international law.
Batoul cites a visit to the United Nations Officer of the High Commissioner in Ramallah as the most beneficial during Hirak project in accumulating knowledge and skills related to addressing violations. The information she obtained regarding a complaint mechanism to file any violations is considered pivotal to the use of available international tools. This mechanism motivated Batoul and her fellow Hirak participants to think of a path that would introduce the Palestinian public to this mechanism understanding that its use will lead to positive results in addressing violations of the Israeli occupation.
During the study tour to the EU Parliament in Geneva and Human Rights Council in Brussels, Batoul focused on extra judicial executions by the Israeli occupation in Palestine. She was given the space to engage with various international duty bearers to represent this critical cause using international advocacy tools. She explained, “No one prevented me from saying what I believe is just and I was able to ask questions freely even though sometimes I wasn’t able to get clear answers.”
The most important effects of her participation, alongside her fellow Hirak participants, stem from her ability to reflect a positive image of Palestinian youth in the international community. In her opinion, representing Palestinian youth as leaders and activists in the international community will allow them to communicate their ideas to the world. The positive reactions from the international audience motivated her to promote a positive image of Palestinian youth.
“I have become more resilient and aware. I have strong motivation and powerful knowledge to contribute to my community.” This is how Batoul described herself, where she plans in the future to rais the awareness of the Palestinian community about the international tools and mechanisms that will make a difference in highlighting the suffering of Palestinian people and advocate for attaining their rights.
Hirak’s youth started their journey with a spark of interest in community activism and its application in their personal development as leaders of positive change. The spark has evolved into a framework of their view on life and their role in advancing the status of their community.