Cassandra Dixon monitors “Dangerous Passage to School” – at Tuwani, Palestine

Cassandra Dixon of Mary House in WI Dells reports from the Palestinian village of Tuwani, Feb. 2010:

Hi Friends -- the past few weeks have been filled with troubles here in Tuwani.  We so frequently see settlers out practicing with slingshots and rocks, and chasing shepherds, that it is almost becoming normal.  A few days ago the army arrested a shepherd in a very violent way, pushing women from his family to the ground and headbutting another shepherd. 

There was no word from him for days, lawyers attempting to find him received conflicting information about where he was being held from the army and the police,  and the family and everyone here has been terribly worried.  Today he was released and made it to the home of a cousin, but is not yet back in his village.  We understand from the layer that the charge against him is for resisting arrest -- no reason has been given by the army for coming into his village, violently grabbing him,  and taking him away blindfolded, and of course there was no warrent for his arrest.





The situation here with school children walking from Tuba to Tuwani also remains bad -- on several incidents the army has not arrived for the escort and the children have had to take a longer, but still dangerous path to or from school. They have been chased by settlers, and have been late both for school in the morning and arriving home at the end of their day.


The day after Khalil's arrest, children from Tuba had to go and meet the same soldiers who had pushed and shoved their parents and older siblings the day before, and walk in front of the jeep to school -- kind of unbelievable. A couple of news releases on these events follow -- thanks so much for your care for this corner of the world!!  cassandra dixon - of WNPJ member group, Mary House - chrepairs@yahoo.com
*************


23 February, 2010


On Tuesday afternoon, February 23, 2010, Israeli soldiers arrested a Palestinian shepherd, Khalil Ibrahim Abu Jundiyye, from the village of Tuba.


Abu Jundiyye, 19, was grazing his flock near Tuba when four Israeli soldiers, coming from the nearby Ma'on settlement, chased him and another shepherd back to Tuba. The soldiers aggressively pursued the two shepherds while Tuba families attempted to keep the soldiers away from the shepherds. One soldier head-butted a Palestinian young man as he pleaded for an explanation as to why his brother was being arrested. Another soldier loaded his rifle and pointed it in the air, threatening to shoot, forcing the families to quell their protest.


Once handcuffed, the soldiers quickly led Abu Jundiyye away from the area, threatening arrest for anyone who followed them. Two members of Christian Peacemaker Teams, standing at a distance, saw that the soldiers forced Abu Jundiyye to walk blindfolded on rugged terrain for nearly one kilometer.

An Israeli human rights organization later reported that Abu Jundiyye was taken to Beit Yatir checkpoint near the southern edge of the Green Line, adjacent to Mezadot Yehuda settlement.


Abu Jundiyye remained in custody overnight, but his whereabouts are unknown. According to the Israeli District Coordinating Office, Abu Jundiyye was presumably arrested for assaulting an Israeli soldier. The two Christian Peacemaker Teams members who were present during the incident did not witness Abu Jundiyye assault a soldier. Nor is that charge confirmed in any of their video footage of the incident.



22 February, 2010


On Monday morning, 22 February, 2010, four Israeli settlers chased Palestinian children who were walking home after school in At-Tuwani Village. For one hour they had awaited the Israeli military escort assigned to ensure their safe passage to their home villages of Tuba and Maghaer Al-Abeed.


After the Israeli military refused to respond to CPTers' repeated phone calls for an hour, Israeli settlers approached on a farm tractor. Two men, one masked, drove down to the children's regular waiting point on the dirt road that bisects the Ma'on settlement and the Havat Ma'on settlement outpost. Using the tractor, they tried to form a barricade by pushing boulders onto the road surface.


Normally, the road is in daily use by the children and their escort, because it connects their home villages with At-Tuwani and Palestinian cities to the north. However, three times in the previous three school days, the Israeli soldiers had failed to perform their assigned escort.


The two settlers returned to their outpost. The children decided to give up waiting for the military and to return home by a longer path around the settlements. As they walked, four settlers came out from Havat Ma'on and chased them. As the children ran toward home, Israeli military jeeps appeared ahead of them, but stopped while soldiers spoke with the four settlers.


Soldiers detained the children and refused to provide safe passage around the settlement. They claimed that someone in Havat Ma'on required emergency medical transport, and pointed to two Israeli ambulances that had appeared ahead on the path. The children detoured yet again, taking an almost circuitous path home through dangerously rugged terrain. This path takes an hour, compared with their normal military escort, which takes half an hour. They finally arrived in Tuba and Mughaer Al-Abeed three hours after school.


The school children of these villages require the military escort because of Israeli settlers' repeated attacks and harassment, year after year. Whenever the soldiers fail to meet them promptly before and after school, the children wait in areas under “de facto” settler control.


For a thorough report on the school escort in 2007 and 2008, including maps, photos and interviews with the children, please see “A Dangerous Journey” at www.cpt.org/files/Dangerous-Journey-Summary-2008.pdf.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/22236486@N06/

Earlier in February, Cassandra wrote: Greetings from Tuwani - and happy Valentines day & Ash Wednesday!  It's been wonderful to be back here and see people again -- especially to see how much the children have grown.  But a number of things are definitely worse for people here. 

 

The settlers at the outpost of Havat Ma'on seem to be much bolder in their violence than a year ago, and to have more energy and resources.  Almost daily now there are incidents of them harassing shepherds as they graze sheep, and they seem to be intent on taking more land into the outpost.

Read more from Cassandra in reports below.

 

They plowed some Palestinian fields this spring, and have been much more agressive in chasing shepherds off their own grazing land.  Many times a week we see them out practicing with slings and stones while we wait for the schoolchildren -- when I first heard of their fondness for slingshots I almost didn't react, since they sound so toy-like.  But in reality these slings can launch grapefruit sized stones a good distance, especially if the shooter is at the top of a hill and firing them down into scattering sheep and shepherds on a rocky incline below them.  They are terrifying to watch, and I find myself thinking about the insanity of so-called deterrence of any kind.  The willingness to inspire fear just to get what  you want away from someone is such a sad aspect of humanity.
The school children continue to make their trip to school, but they also are encountering fear and harassment on a more and more regular basis.  Two days ago as I waited with the for the army escort, which was at that time about a half hour late, a woman drove out from the outpost down the hill and through the gate where they were gathered, forcing them to scatter out of the way.  She never slowed down, and some of these children are six and seven years old. 


Thanks so much for your care and concern for the people here -- and best wishes for spring and lent to all of you!!

cassandra dixon

Her email ....chrepairs@yahoo.com

 

 

Background from 2009 reports:

Of utmost concern for CPT and Operation Dove is the safe travel of Palestinian school children who walk from the nearby villages of Tuba and Magaher-al-Abeed  to At-Tuwani’s elementary school.  These school children face a treacherous daily walk past the illegal Israeli settlement of Ma’on and the illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on.  For years, armed adult settlers have attacked, threatened and harassed the children along the path from Tuba to Tuwani.  In 2004 the Knesset recommended that the Israeli military provide the children with an armed escort.  However, since settlers constructed a gate across the road one year ago, the escort soldiers have refused to walk with the children far enough to ensure their safety.  Internationals now request that concerned people make calls to the Communications office of the Southern District Commander of the Israeli Military. It is an Israeli phone number, ( country code 972) 2 996 7200.   Please ask Commander BenMoha to instruct the soldiers who perform the escort of the Tuba and Magaher-al-Abeed school children to accompany the children all the way past the Ma’on chicken barns and past any settlers present. More on CPT here...

In your call - Please stress that this is particularly necessary because of the repeated presence of settlers in this area at the time of the children’s walk home, and remind the commander that settlers used violence against the school children on fourteen occasions in the 07-08 school year and on two occasions during the current school year.

 For a complete report on the school escort, including maps, photographs and interviews with the children, please see “A Dangerous Journey” at www.cpt.org/files/Dangerous-Journey-Summary-2008.pdf

 In addition to phone calls, Operation Dove and CPT ask that people send the IDF Public Appeals office a simple message.   This is very easy to use. http://dover.idf.il/IDF/English/Contact+US/

Please include Commander BenMoha’s name in the subject line.

 Sample message:  (no more than 75 words)

Subject: Request to Commander BenMoha

Palestinian school children from Tuba and Magaher-al-abeed must walk past militant settlers from Ma’on and Havat Ma’on to attend school in At-Tuwani.   The Knesset recommended in 2004 that the IDF escort these children.  Currently soldiers refuse to escort the children far enough to ensure their safety.  In order to do so they must accompany the children all the way past the Ma’on chicken barns and past any settlers present. 

IDF Public Appeals Fax:  011-972-3-569-9400.

IDF Public Appeals Phone: 011-972-3-569-1000.

*****************************************************************************************

 

Link to photos...

At Tuwani Release

26 April 2009

Contact:  Christian Peacemaker Teams or Operation Dove,    +972 (0) 54-253-1323  

Nonviolent Action by Palestinians and Internationals Stops Settler Road Construction in Um al Kheir

Palestinians from the South Hebron Hills village of Um al Kheir today changed the route of a road being constructed by settlers  from the illegal settlement of Karmel.  The villagers, acting with internationals, nonviolently blocked the road-building equipment as it prepared the roadbed on land which belongs to Palestinians living in the village of Um al Kheir. 

 

Palestinians and internationals gathered to confront settlers  from Karmel, Israeli soldiers, and Israeli border police as work began at 7:00 AM.  Israeli soldiers allowed the road work to continue despite a pending legal complaint filed by the village in Israeli court.   One older Palestinian man who was sitting in front of earth-moving equipment was accidentally struck by stones which were dislodged by the work.  

 

Survey markers  placed the previous week in the village indicated that construction of the road would include the demolition of a Palestinian home and several agricultural structures.  As marked now, the road will include the  annexation of a large area of Palestinian land by the settlement, but will not include demolition of the home. A legal decision on construction of the road  is expected  within ten days.

 

Representatives from  the United Nations Refugee Works Administration (UNRWA)  were also present during the work because the villagers have refugee status.  Residents of the Bedouin village of Um al Kheir bought the land the village currently occupies, including the land being used for construction of the settler road,  fifty years ago.  They were forced to move the village from its original location near Arrad  in 1948, after the creation of the state of Israel.   

 

Recent expansion of the Karmel settlement has included the construction of twelve double houses around the perimeter of the settlement.  These are surrounded by a fence and a military road, which encroaches onto Palestinian land.  The new road as proposed will extend the settlement farther into Um al Kheir,  and will result in the annexation of a substantial area of land outside the existing settlement  houses.  Numerous other Palestinian villages in the South Hebron Hills have  been impacted by the expansion of settlements and outposts in recent months.

 

The residents of Um al Kheir, along with villagers from nearby At-Tuwani and other villages in the area, remain committed to nonviolence as they struggle to oppose the illegal expansion of Israeli settlements and outposts.  Villagers have filed legal complaints, and staged nonviolent grazing actions in the South Hebron Hills throughout the spring grazing season. 

 

**************************************
At Tuwani Release

24 April 2009

Um al Kheir, South Hebron Hills

Photos Attached: Road construction expands settlement; Soldiers declare closed military zone

Contact: Christian Peacemaker Teams  and Operation Dove, 054-253-1323, Operation Dove

photo link...

Israeli soldiers arrest journalist, close village of Um al Kheir

 

[Note: According to the Geneva Conventions, the International Court of Justice in the Hague , and numerous United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are
illegal. Most settlement outposts are considered illegal under Israeli law.]

 

On 23 April Israeli soldiers arrested a Palestinian journalist in the village of Um al Kheir and declared the village a closed military zone after settlers from the nearby settlement of Karmel resumed construction of a road on Palestinian land.  The proposed road passes within a few meters of Palestinian homes, animal enclosures and gardens.  Due to a pending legal action in Israeli court filed by Um al Kheir villagers, settlers had previously suspended construction but resumed the work Thursday afternoon.

 

When he observed internationals filming the road construction, the Karmel settlement security guard called the Israeli military.  Soldiers arrived quickly, and when internationals asked for an explanation, they were told to wait for police.  Police arrived shortly and stated that the bulldozer was being used for “military work.”  At 12:00pm, an officer arrived in a second military jeep and declared the area a closed military zone for 24 hours.  Soldiers forced the journalists and internationals to leave, and arrested a journalist who did not leave immediately. 

 

Villagers from Um al Kheir reported on Friday that work on the road had been suspended, but stated that they feared it would resume in a few days time.   A legal complaint filed by the village states that the proposed road is an expansion of the settlement of Karmel and is therefore illegal. Um al Kheir residents have witnessed substantial expansion of Karmel settlement in recent months.  The contested road is planned to surround the existing settlement, effectively expanding its borders. 

 

The Palestinian villagers of Um al Kheir bought the land on which the village now lies fifty years ago, when the state of Israel was created.  At that time they were forced to flee their homes in the area south of Arad .    

 

The village of Um al Kheir has also experienced recent settler violence and harassment.  On 10 April four male settlers attacked three women from the village as the women grazed sheep near the village.  One of the women, who is eight months pregnant, required hospitalization for a serious injury to her arm.  The women have filed a legal complaint against the four settlers.

 

The residents of Um al Kheir remain committed to nonviolent resistance to settler harassment and settlement expansion. 

Cassandra's report on April 18th, 2009

 

 

Hi Friends,

Today has been and especially difficult day here in AtTuwani and for the surrounding villages.  In recent weeks there has been an increase of incursions onto privately owned Palestinian land near AtTuwan by settlers with a flock of sheep and goats.  On a number of instances the settlers have brought the flock onto Palestinian land, and harassed and threatened Palestinian shepherds.  This morning Palestinians arrived at a field of wheat intending to harvest it, only to find it had been grazed down to the ground by the settlers and their animals.  Later the same morning the Israeli military arrived in the area and soldiers told Palestinians the entire region had been declared a closed military zone.  They, and we, were told if we did not immediately leave we would be arrested – this occurred on privately owned Palestinian land.  Soldiers refused to give land owners a copy of the map showing the closed area, and would not say when the closure would end.  They informed Palestinians that they now expect shepherds to specifically inform the military each time they set foot on the land.

Can you imagine this happening on your neighborhood?  Or being ordered from your garden under threat of arrest at this time of year?

The restraint and composure of these people in the face of this remains absolutely amazing.

 

Warm wishes, cassandra


Link to photos of Tuwani....

 

At Tuwani Release: Israeli Settlers Destroy Crops near Village of At Tuwani, Soldiers Declare Area a Closed Military Zone

18 April, 2008

Contact:  Christian Peacemaker Teams:  054 253 1323
 

 

On 18 April Palestinians in the South Hebron Hills reported that Israeli settlers had destroyed a large privately owned Palestinian wheat field by allowing a flock of goats and sheep to graze on it. Palestinian owners discovered the destruction when they arrived to harvest the crops on the morning of 18 April.  The field, located in Meshaha Valley, is the property of a family living in the nearby village of At Tuwani. 

 

Also that morning Israeli soldiers declared a large area of land east of At Tuwani to be a closed military zone and forced Palestinian shepherds and their flocks to leave their land. Land owners and internationals were told they would be subject to arrest if they remained.   The soldiers also ordered Palestinian landowners to advise the military every time they intend to access their own land within the zone.  Israeli soldiers refused to provide Palestinian land owners with copies of the map of the military zone boundaries and would not state how long the closure would last.  Throughout the morning, a group of at least ten Israeli settlers conferred with the soldiers.

 

The Palestinian owners of the land said the area of destroyed crops was approximately 40 dunum (or approximately 10 acres).  Palestinians from At Tuwani and nearby villages have repeatedly observed settlers from the illegal outpost of Havot Ma’on with a flock of sheep and goats grazing on Palestinian land east of the outpost in recent months.  Israeli settlers with the flock have threatened Palestinian shepherds and disrupted the grazing of Palestinian flocks on several occasions this spring, prompting Palestinians to file legal complaints against them.

 

The crop destruction represents a severe economic loss, as the area is experiencing an extremely dry spring and the field was one of the few near At Tuwani which produced a spring wheat crop.  Spring crops and the raising of sheep and goats are central to the economy and way of life in Tuwani and the surrounding small villages of the South Hebron Hills, and disruption by the Israeli military or settlers of agricultural work at this time of year constitutes a substantial threat to the villages. 

 

Background information about the work of Christian Peacemaker Teams in AtTuwani available at cpt.org

Cassandra's report on Good Friday - April 10th, 2009

Masked Settlers attack three Palestinian women in the South Hebron Hills

Contact: Christian Peacemaker Teams, 054-253-1323

[Note: According to the Geneva Conventions, the International Court of Justice in the Hague, and numerous United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are
illegal. Most settlement outposts are considered illegal under Israeli law.]

On Friday 10 April at about 10.00 am five Israeli settlers attacked three Palestinian women from the Bedouin village of Umm Al Kher, south of Yatta, while the women were grazing their sheep and gathering herbs in the nearby Umm Zeituna valley. The women reported that the men were masked and armed with wooden sticks. They beat one of the women, aged 21, injuring her arm, and chased the women and flocks off the land while throwing rocks. The injured woman needed to be hospitalized to receive treatment.

 Later in the morning in the same area, four settlers harassed shepherds from Tuba and Umm Al Kher, chasing them and their flocks off their land. The four settlers also harassed two members of Christian Peacemaker Teams, who were passing in Umm Zeituna on their way to Tuba. One of the settlers tried to seize a mobile phone from the internationals while another stole a video camera. The internationals reported that the four men then ran toward Ma'on settlement. 

 Palestinians and internationals made complaints to the Israeli police, providing video and photographic evidence.  The police said they would start investigating on Sunday.

 Settlers from nearby settlements regularly harass and attack Palestinians in the area of Umm Zeituna while the Palestinians carry on daily activities such as grazing, farming their land, or walking to the city of Yatta.

 

***************************************************************************

Cassandra's report on Palm Sunday - April 2009:

Hi Friends - Happy Palm Sunday from Tuwani!!  Here's a link to some recent photos.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/22236486@N06/

I Hope you're all well and enjoying spring.  It's definitely spring here, but not too calm.  This morning a friend and I were returning to Tuwani after having spent the night in the village of Tuba and watching the children's walk to school.  We had stopped to call and check in with the rest of the cpt team when we glanced up and saw two masked settlers above us on the hillside about 50 feet away.  Our calm walk turned into a mad dash down and away, and we're now happy to be back in Tuwani, but arrived home only to find that the Israeli army has significantly upped thier harrassment of the village in the last couple days.  We were passed twice by a humvee as we entered the village.  There have been frequent "flying" checkpoints in the village over the past few days -- soldiers who have driven into the village and stopped cars, detaining people while their ID's are checked. 
On the happier side of things, shepherds from Tuwani and nearby villages met yesterday to graze their sheep in the valley below the illegal settlement of Avigaile, near Tuwani.  Settlers, Police and Army arrived, and the military declared the are a closed military zone, but Palestinians remained there grazing their sheep for the remainder of the day, and settlers, police and army eventually left without violence.
This collection of incidents -- all within 24 hours and a couple square miles, really is representative of life here.  It is simultaneiously appalling and inspiring, calm and contentiousl, hopeful and hurtful.
So a peaceful and calm Palm Sunday to you all, cassandra


AT-TUWANI RELEASE:  Internationals pressure Israeli military to ensure safety of Palestinian schoolchildren

01 April 2009
At-Tuwani, West Bank

Video available upon request

Contact: Christian Peacemaker Teams, 054-253-1323


[Note: According to the Geneva Conventions, the International Court of Justice in the Hague, and numerous United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are
illegal. Most settlement outposts are considered illegal under Israeli law.]

 

Internationals living in the village of At Tuwani have initiated a campaign to pressure the Israeli military to adequately protect schoolchildren walking between the elementary school in Tuwani and their homes in the villages of Tuba and Maghayir al Abeed.  These school children daily walk past the illegal Israeli settlement of Ma’on and the illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on and for years have experienced attacks, threats and harassment from adult settlers along the path.


On the afternoon of 1 April 2009, five adult settlers were present near the chicken barns of the Ma'on settlement, an area where settlers frequently attack the children.   Despite this, the army refused to escort the children to the end of the barns.  Internationals met the children near the chicken barns and report that the children were crying in fear. 

 

On 2 April, after several phone calls to the Southern District Commander of the Israeli Military, internationals report that soldiers slightly extended their escort of the children but failed to accompany them past a settler present in the area.  "Yesterday the children were crying and running toward us" said one of the international volunteers.  "Today we're grateful the escort came slightly further.  But the soldiers really must walk with the children all the way past Havot Ma'on and any settlers present."

 

Both the schoolchildren and internationals have repeatedly asked the army to escort the children past the chicken barns as required by protocol.  On 23 March, two settlers were present near the chicken barns as the children returned home from school.  When the army saw the settlers, the soldiers did not walk further with the children.  Instead, they directed the children to continue alone, and they left the scene before the children had passed the hill where the settlers were walking.  As one child reported, "The soldiers saw the settlers and they said to us, 'Okay, run fast.  Go.' ...I don't want these soldiers.  I want good soldiers."  Walking by themselves, the children took a detour around the hill to avoid the settlers and reach home safely.

 

The Israeli army began to escort the Palestinian children to and from school in September 2004, following a series of Israeli settler attacks upon the children and their international accompaniers.  In November 2004, the Israeli Knesset Committee on the Rights of the Child endorsed this obligation.  Since settlers constructed a gate across the road one year ago, the escort soldiers have refused to walk with the children far enough to ensure their safety.

 

During the present school year settlers have twice attacked the children on their way home, throwing stones, chasing them and yelling death threats.  In the 2007-08 academic year, settlers attacked the children a total of fourteen times, as documented in the report "A Dangerous Journey: Settler violence against Palestinian schoolchildren under Israeli military escort"
[http://cpt.org/files/Palestine-School-Accompaniment-Report-2006-2008-Dangerous-\
Journey.pdf
]

********************************************************
Thanks so much for your interest & support -- I'm well, and am so grateful to you for caring about these villages.  -- the releases sent out by the team in the last couple days follow.  Thanks so much, cassandra

 

[Editor's note: Cassandra is in Tuwani for the third time this Spring, as part of a CPT delegation, charged with walking children safely to their schools - a formidable task. WNPJ will be following this trip, with Cassandra's stories and photos. See the end of this listing for contact information for CPT and Cassandra, to see how you can support this work.]

 

AT-TUWANI RELEASE:  Israeli army refuses to escort Palestinian school children past settlers

23 March 2009
At-Tuwani, West Bank 


Israeli soldiers in charge of escorting schoolchildren from At Tuwani to their homes in the villages of Tuba and Maghayir al Abeed refused to escort the children past two adult settlers present in the area on 23 March 2009.   As the soldiers and children arrived close to the chicken barns which mark the end of the area where settlers frequently attack, they saw settlers approaching the barns.  The children asked the soldiers to complete the escort.  Internationals watching from a nearby ridge also called the army twice to raise the problem, specifically demanding that the escort complete the accompaniment past the chicken barns as required by the protocol.  The soldiers did not walk further with the children.  Instead, they directed the children to continue alone, and they left the scene before the children had passed the hill where the settlers were walking.  As one child reported, "The soldiers saw the settlers and they said to us, 'Okay, run fast.  Go.'  These soldiers are new.  I don't want these soldiers.  I want good soldiers."  Walking by themselves, the children took a detour around the hill to avoid the settlers and reach home safely.The Israeli army began to escort the Palestinian children to and from school in September 2004, following a series of Israeli settler attacks upon the children and their international accompaniers.  In November 2004, the Israeli Knesset Committee on the Rights of the Child endorsed this obligation.
Despite repeated settler attacks on the Palestinian elementary schoolchildren, and despite Palestinian, Israeli and international advocacy efforts, the Israeli military continues to fail to escort the children safely past the settlement.
During the present school year settlers have twice attacked the children on their way home, throwing stones, chasing them and yelling death threats.  In the 2007-08 academic year, settlers attacked the children a total of fourteen times, as documented in the report "A Dangerous Journey: Settler violence against Palestinian schoolchildren under Israeli military escort"

[http://cpt.org/files/Palestine-School-Accompaniment-Report-2006-2008-Dangerous-\
Journey.pdf
]


AT-TUWANI: At-Tuwani hosts former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair to address Israeli occupation and violence in the southern West Bank

On 19 March 2009, Tony Blair, representative of the Quartet on the Middle East (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quartet_on_the_Middle_East) visited the Palestinian village of At-Tuwani, located in the southern West Bank.  His said his reason for visiting was "really to draw attention to the fact that without a new and different system applying in Area C [the area in the West Bank under Israeli military and civilian control], then it is very hard for Palestinians to enjoy the standard of living that they should enjoy and be able to develop their land as they should be able to develop in freedom."

Mr. Blair met with the mayor of At-Tuwani as well as members of Christian Peacemaker Teams and Operation Dove, who described the attacks and harassment Palestinians experience from Israeli settlers and soldiers when Palestinians attempt to access their land.  The conversation also highlighted Israeli government inaction toward settler aggression, exemplified by the government's failure to follow through with the demolition orders on the illegal Israeli outpost of Havat Ma'on.  When asked what he will do about this situation, Mr. Blair answered, "It's got to be stopped, hasn't it?  This is what should happen.  But it needs to be done in a systematic way so that the whole way this area is looked at and administered is changed to make it fair."

Under the Oslo Accords, the village of At-Tuwani is in Area C, leaving it under Israeli military and civilian control.  Israeli authorities have refused to provide electricity and running water to the village, despite the fact that the Israeli settlement of Ma'on, less than a kilometer away, has access to these utilities.  In addition, the Israeli government refuses to grant building permission to Palestinians in At-Tuwani and surrounding villages.  Consequently, Palestinians frequently face the threat of demolition on their houses, mosques, schools, clinics, and wells.  In contrast, Ma'on and Havat Ma'on and other settlements and outposts in the area continue to expand outside of regulations.

Over recent years, At-Tuwani has received increased media attention due to its residents' commitment to nonviolent resistance.  Palestinians in At-Tuwani and the surrounding villages have successfully used nonviolence to reclaim their land and freedom of movement and to highlight the violence they experience under the Israeli occupation.

Photos available at http://cpt.org/gallery/album275

*************************************************************

Prior messages from Cassandra Dixon:

 Israeli soldiers in charge of escorting the children from At-Tuwani to their homes in the villages of Tuba and Maghayir al Abeed arrived at the meeting point thirty minutes late on 15 March 2009, leaving the children waiting in cold, rainy weather.  When At-Tuwani team members with the children called for the escort, the army dispatcher said the escort would come thirty minutes late and offered no further explanation.
 

At-Tuwani team members accompanying local shepherds in the area witnessed two settlers in a white pickup coming onto Palestinian land and chasing away shepherds at about 12.50 p.m.  Ten minutes later, an army jeep drove into the same area, and two soldiers joined the settlers in preventing shepherds from accessing their land.  The soldiers left the area at about 1:25 p.m. and drove to the escort meeting point.

Further departing from protocol, the jeep drove off into Ma’on settlement while two soldiers escorted the children on foot.  The jeep rejoined the escort ten minutes later when it was almost over.

After five years of implementation, the Israeli military escort still has problems performing its legal duty.  The escort sometimes is late, forcing the children wait alone in cold weather or unsafe locations.  In addition, the army vehicles and soldiers on foot consistently stop and turn before the end of the route, which leaves the children to walk alone on a path where settlers have attacked them.  During the 2007-2008 academic year, settlers attacked the children fourteen times, as documented in the report “A Dangerous Journey: Settler violence against Palestinian schoolchildren under Israeli military escort” [http://www.cpt.org/files/Palestine-School-Accompaniment-Report-2006-2008-Dangerous-Journey.pdf].
*******************************************************

News from February: AT-TUWANI: Soldiers kill Palestinian migrant worker, increase harassment of villagers in South Hebron Hills (2/12/09) Three incidents in recent days indicate that Israeli occupation authorities are stepping up their aggression in the South Hebron Hills, particularly in response to Palestinian migrant laborers.

On the morning of Monday, 2 February, Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian man on the Israeli side of the border near the Palestinian village of Jinba and the Israeli settlement of Beit Yatir.  Taysir Manasra, 27, from the Hebron-area village of Bani Na'im, was attempting to travel into Israel for work.

 


CPTers, along with other human rights workers, arrived on the scene at 1:30 pm to find a bullet-riddled car, a puddle of blood, and soldiers and police detaining about ten Palestinian men.   A corpse had just been removed from the scene.

Other Palestinian migrants told the internationals that they had already been detained when Manasra drove his car through an army ambush.  The soldiers ordered them to lie facedown before they shot at Manasra's car and killed him.

Under Israeli law it is illegal for Palestinians to cross the 1949 Green Line (the internationally recognized border between Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories) without a permit, which is extremely difficult to obtain.  Along part of the West Bank's border near the Israeli town of Be'er Sheva, the barrier is not yet completed.  At-Tuwani, five km north of the border, lies directly on the primary route traveled by Palestinian workers.  (For a map of this area see http://tinyurl.com/bt629r.)

The same morning, Israeli soldiers set up a checkpoint on the Palestinian road from at-Tuwani to al-Birkeh.  They stopped two Palestinian vehicles, removing and physically assaulting the drivers.

One of the men was delivering goods to at-Tuwani.  Although he showed valid documents, both for his van and the road he was using, the soldiers removed and confiscated his license plates.  The man was indignant and told CPTers, "The soldiers asked to see my papers, so I showed them.  I have the correct papers, but they punched and shoved me.  I am an older man, and I showed them my papers, but they still hit me."

The other man transports Palestinian schoolchildren daily between at-Tuwani and the village of Susiya (three km southwest).  He also showed the soldiers valid papers.   One of the soldiers grabbed and struck him repeatedly on the face and upper body, before letting him go.

The following day, 3 February, Israeli soldiers arrested a Palestinian at his home in Mfagara, one km southwest of at-Tuwani.  They claimed that the van parked outside his home was not correctly registered.  CPTers videotaped him as he showed the soldiers his documents, which they confiscated.  The man, a well-known local peace activist, calmly agreed to go with the soldiers in order to settle the dispute.  The soldiers handcuffed him, placed a black hood over his head, and drove him away in an army humvee.

For images of these incidents, go to http://tinyurl.com/cgkqll.

Mary House
Contact: Cassandra Dixon
Address: 3579 County Highway G, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965
Phone: 608-586-4447
E-Mail: chrepairs@yahoo.com

------------------------------

----------------

CPT's MISSION: "Getting in the Way." What would happen if Christians devoted the same discipline and sacrifice to nonviolent peacemaking that armies devote to war? Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) seeks to enlist the whole church in organized, nonviolent alternatives to war and places teams of trained peacemakers in regions of lethal conflict.

COMMENTS: To ask questions or express concerns, criticisms and affirmations send messages to peacemakers@cpt.org.

NEWSLETTER: To receive CPT's quarterly print newsletter fill out the form at http://cpt.org/participate/subscribe

DONATE: Donate to CPT on-line with your credit card! Go to http://cpt.org/participate/donate and click the DONATE button to make a contribution through Network for Good, a secure way to help support CPT.

YOUR SUBSCRIPTION: to change your subscription settings go to http://mailman.cpt.org/mailman/listinfo/cptnet