“I am afraid to sleep and everyone around me asks me to take a rest, but I just cannot.” — Janna Kiswani, 16
On May 18, 16-year-old Janna Kiswani was having the kind of night most teenagers around the world can relate to. She finished her chores—in Janna’s case making some coffee for her dad—and was sitting down to hop on her phone. But Janna is a Palestinian living in Sheikh Jarrah, and not many teens around the world can relate to living with security camera monitors. Janna and her father noticed police gathering in the streets on their monitors, and went outside to see what was happening. Janna never put down her phone, and began recording.
There was a protest nearby, but Janna’s family and their neighbors were not involved, and we only peeking outside of their own homes. The Israeli police immediately began yelling and ordering the residents to return inside their own homes. Janna believes she was specifically targeted because she was recording. A police officer less than three meters from Janna pointed his gun at her and asked why she was not following orders. As she turned to enter the house and follow orders, the officer fired a sponge-tipped rubber bullet into Janna’s spinal column, and she collapsed over the threshold of her own home.
As Janna fell unconscious, her father threw himself over her and was shot in the leg. A friend of the family struggled to pulled Janna inside the doorway as police fired stun grenades at the home. She remembers being carried to an ambulance, where paramedics tried to keep her alert, but she kept slipping in and out of consciousness. The hospital was loud and chaotic. Janna’s father was screaming and Janna was trying to understand what had happened. She didn’t know her father had been shot, but learned later that his screams were not pain, but fear for his daughter.
The bullet broke Janna’s spinal column and left her with breathing problems. Despite unequivocally being shot in the back, Janna will still have to prove that she was not causing any threat.