Palestinians today live in Gaza, Israel, East Jerusalem, the West Bank and as refugees in many other countries.

Depending on where they live, Palestinians experience discrimination, denial of basic human rights, and an extreme degree of military violence against their civilian populations. The plight of Palestinians has been labeled ethnic cleansing by the United Nations and apartheid by leaders such as Desmond Tutu and Jimmy Carter.

We know that Kayla would have been deeply concerned about the Summer 2014 invasion of Gaza and accompanying humanitarian crisis, in which more than 2100 Gazans were killed, including 450 children.

Kayla lived for a month in the West Bank, and her work is documented in an article by the International Solidarity Movement. Below, she writes about the death of someone she knew:

Bil’in is a Palestinian village that like many are struggling day by day simply to exist…

Their best farm land, their wells, their olive trees, their livelihood, their very existence is silently and illegally being stolen from them; the village is slowly being strangled. If nothing is done to help the people of Bil’in, this barbed-wire fence will soon turn into an enormous concrete wall, that boasts to be 2X the height of the Berlin Wall.

…And now just today, Jawaher has been asphyxiated from tear gas inhalation. Jawaher was not even participating in the weekly demonstration but was in her home approximately 500 meters away from where the tear gas canisters were being fired (by wind the tear gas reaches the village and even the nearby illegal settlement often)…

This family has a tragic story, but it is the story of life in Palestine. Is this justice? Is it humane to illegally cage innocent human beings like dogs with a concrete wall?

…Where is the change for Bil’in? Do freedom and security not go together in Palestine? Do not the liberties of the Rahmah family strengthen the cause of world peace? How can such a level of injustice be so easily ignored?…

Don’t we all know the Rahmah family? Can’t we all feel their pain from across the great ocean?

I think we can.

…Compassion’s roots are in understanding.

We must strive to understand. We must strive to water the seed of understanding in ourselves and in others or peace will never come to Palestine. Peace will never come to the world. (Kayla’s blog, 1/1/11)