At-Tuwani: Palestinians protest expansion of Havat Ma’on Outpost; Israeli Military responds with violence

Carrying a large banner that read “We want to live in Peace and Dignity,” over one hundred Palestinians, internationals and Israeli activists marched in protest of an extension to the illegal Israeli settlement of Havat Ma’on on the morning of July 9th.

In response to the nonviolent march, Israeli soldiers declared a closed military zone, fired tear gas and threw sound grenades. One Palestinian man suffered minor burns on his legs when a sound bomb landed at his feet.

The extension of the Israeli outpost consists of a tent that settlers built about two months ago. Settlers built the tent on ground that belongs to families in the nearby Palestinian village of At-Tuwani.

The police detained one Palestinian and one international, but released them when activists refused to leave the area without them.

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CPT-Palestine in At-Tuwani, 

South Hebron Hills

0542-531-323

0595-980-718

Twitter @cptpalestine

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Palestinian Shepherds attacked in the Meshakha valley South Hebron Hills, by 11 settlers armed with knives and stones”

June 25th, 2011

At-Tuwani – Around 10 am Palestinian shepherds were grazing their sheep and goats in the Meshakha valley when they were attacked by 11 settlers who came over the hill from the illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on armed with stones and knives. Some of the settlers were masked as they ran toward the shepherds throwing stones, yelling blasphemies against Islam and stating that internationals were now not present to protect them. According to Shaady from Maghayr al Abeed a settler attacked his donkey with a knife, and when he attempted to stop the attacker and protect his donkey, he was then hit by stones in the back and torso. Blows that took his breath away. Shaady had a huge welt on his back and bruising as a result of the attack.


Sheep and goats were also pummeled with rocks and the shepherds were forced to run to protect their flock. The shepherds were chased for several hundred meters. According to the Palestinian shepherds the soldiers saw the incident and refused to get involved. After the attack, IDF soldiers were seen greeting and shaking hands with the settlers as they walked back into the trees of the outpost of Havat Ma’on. 

Shaady stated “we need all the people of the world Europe and America to see who is the agressor. how the palestinian is treated by the settlers.”

[Note: According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Hague Regulations, the International Court of Justice, and several United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements and outposts in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal. Most settlement outposts, including Havat Ma'on (Hill 833), are considered illegal also under Israeli law.]

Operation Dove and Christian Peacemaker Teams have maintained an international presence in At-Tuwani and South Hebron Hills since 2004.

picture of the accident: http://snipurl.com/1knqhu

For further information:

Operation Dove, 054 99 25 773

Christian Peacemaker Teams, 054 25 31 323

 

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6 housetents and a toilet destroyed in Bir – Al ‘Idd

“Israeli Army and Border Police destroy 6 housetents and a outside toilet at the Palestinian village of Bir – Al ‘Idd in the South Hebron Hills”

South Hebron Hills, June 20th 2011 – On the morning of June 20th 2011 Israeli Army and Border Police destroyed 6 housetents, and a cinderblock outside toilet at the palestinian village of Bir – Al ‘Idd in the South Hebron Hills. The families directly affected are Rab’ai, Abu ‘Ram, Abu Junis and ‘Adara. According to villagers Israeli officials arrived in the early morning with heavy equipment, and quickly destroyed the tents and cinderblock construction. Internationals and other national allies arrived in the village only to be told that the area was a closed military zone and that all who refused to leave would be arrested. The village of Bir Al ‘Idd is based between two Israeli ideological outposts, Mitzpe Yair and Nof Nesher. After years of threats, harassments and aggresions inflicted by settlers, some Palestinian families had to leave the village moving to others locations. Last year in 2010 the Palestinian families decided to return to the area, after a legal proceeding in which the Israeli High Court recognized their right to access of their land surrounding Bir Al ‘Idd, therby the right to live in the village. What happened today, is one of many cases of political displacement continually carried out by the Israeli army in the South Hebron Hills. The last demolition in the area was on the 5th of May 2011 in the village of Al Aminiyr where the entire village was destroyed leaving the families homeless. Operation Dove and Christian Peacemaker Teams have maintained an international presence in At-Tuwani and South Hebron Hills since 2004.

Picture of the incident: http://snipurl.com/20bpkh

[Note: According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Hague Regulations, the International Court of Justice, and several United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements and outposts in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal. Most settlement outposts, including Havat Ma'on (Hill 833), are considered illegal also under Israeli law.]  www.cpt.org

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Palestinian man stabbed by settler in Tuwani days after settler riot

22 March 2011

(CPT)

On the morning of March 21st shortly after 7 am a Palestinian father of two from Tuba village was attacked and stabbed near the the illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on in the South Hebron Hills. Mahmoud Ibrahim Ali Awad, 32, was traveling by donkey from his home in Tuba to a medical appointment in the city of Yatta when a masked settler ran out of the illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on and attacked him with a knife. The assault was witnessed by a resident of Tuwani, who quickly called villagers and internationals and interrupted the attack. The assailant ran back into the illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on. Villagers recognized him as a settler who was involved in a riot in the village earlier that week. Awad was transported by ambulance to Alia Hospital in Hebron and remains there with stab wounds to his chest and right arm.

Two days earlier on March 19 settlers from the illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on rioted near Tuwani in response to the planting of 25 olive trees in Palestinian olive groves there. Israeli peace activists and internationals had joined with villagers to replace mature olive trees which were hacked and destroyed in the grove earlier this month.

Shortly after 9 am on the 19th approximately 25 settlers emerged from the illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on and moved among Palestinians who were grazing sheep and collecting herbs near the olive groves in Humra valley and in nearby Khoruba valley and on Khoruba hill. The settlers, several of whom were masked, shoved and kicked the villagers and their sheep and also internationals and Israeli peace activists who had come to assist in replanting the damaged olive trees.

Israeli soldiers and border police declared the area a closed military zone and discharged two percussion grenades in an attempt to force villagers to leave the area. Two Palestinian men were arrested and one elderly man, Fadil Ahmed Raba’i collapsed from respiratory distress and lost consciousness after soldiers pushed him to the ground and forcibly restrained him. Soldiers refused to allow the ambulance direct access and instead required the driver to take a detour resulting in a 45 minute wait. Raba’i was transported to a hospital in the city of Yatta and released later that day. Two Palestinian men were arrested by border police and remain in custody. Israeli soldiers and border police did not arrest or detain settlers.

Pictures of the incident are available at:

http://cpt.org/index.php?q=gallery&g2_itemId=22477 and at

http://snipurl.com/27nyqe

Sadly, villagers think these events may have been triggered in part by the recent killing of a settler couple and their children in Itamar settlement near Nablus.  No Palestinians have been charged or arrested and it now appears possible that the murders may have been committed by Thai workers who were angry because they had not been paid for their labor. Speaking about the six olive trees found damaged on March 16, Fadil Ahmed Raba’i stated, “They did this because of the settlers who were murdered near Nablus.”

Palestinians and internationals working in the West Bank have expressed concern over a recent rise in settler violence. The situation is further exacerbated by an absence of law enforcement in the region. According to the Israeli legal rights group Yesh-Din Israeli settlers are rarely charged with crimes committed against Palestinians, and if they are their cases are heard in civilian court, where they are provided with legal safeguards and protections. When Palestinians are charged their cases are heard in Israeli military courts, and they do not enjoy the same legal protections. Additionally it is extremely difficult for Palestinians to gain redress for crimes committed against them by settlers. According to a recent report by Yesh-Din, out of 642 monitored investigations of Palestinian complaints against settlers, 91 percent were closed without an indictment.

[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.]

 

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Six olive trees destroyed in the night

18 March 2011

(CPT) 

AT-TUWANI: On the morning of 16 March 2011, residents of the Palestinian village of At-Tuwani discovered that someone had destroyed six of their olive trees in the night.  The villagers said that the perpetrators were almost certainly Israeli settlers from the nearby outpost of Havat Ma’on.  “Settlers did this … they did this because of the settlers who were murdered near Nablus,” said Fadil Ahmed Raba’i, referring to the recent murders of a settler family inside the northern West Bank settlement of Itamar

The trees were approximately fifteen years old and would have produced olives in the fall harvest had they not been damaged.  They were the property of four residents of At-Tuwani:  Suleiman Jibreen Raba’i, ‘Aisa Jibreen Raba’i, Mohammad Salaami Raba’i, and Musa Khalil Raba’i.

At-Tuwani has experienced frequent vandalism of olive groves since construction of the Ma’on Settlement in 1984.  Most recently, on 21 February, Raba’i reported that three mature olive trees in his family’s grove had been damaged.

Since the mid 1980s, Palestinians in Tuwani and the surrounding villages have faced frequent threats, acts of violence, and intimidation from settlers, but remain committed to nonviolent resistance.  Because villagers in the region are dependent on dry-land subsistence farming, aggression resulting in damage to trees or crops or denial of access to agricultural lands constitutes a significant threat to the communities.

Additional photos are available here

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Traumatizing the children of the South Hebron Hills

15 March 2011

(CPT, Sam Nichols)

Since 2004, Christian Peacemaker Teams and Operation Dove have documented more than 110 acts of settler aggression against Palestinian schoolchildren from Tuba and Maghayir al-Abeed villages in the South Hebron Hills [1]. The details of the attacks may vary, but the crux of every incident is the same: the Israeli military fails to arrive in order to escort the schoolchildren past Ma’on settlement and Havat Ma’on outpost; the children are forced to walk an indirect route without escort; settlers emerge from the outpost and chase or assault the children.

As I sat with the kids on 7 February 2011, they were becoming increasingly impatient. They had finished their two-week winter recess that provided a reprieve from the daily uncertainty of whether their journey home would be uneventful or dangerous. As the kids became increasingly eager to take the long way home, instead of waiting for the military escort, I became frustrated with their impatience—even though I knew my frustration was misplaced.

I had called the military dispatch office four times, encouraging them to send the escort. Twice they answered and told me they would send the soldiers. On my third call, they hung up. On the fourth call, the dispatcher informed me that the office had not even called the soldiers because the soldiers had more important duties to perform.

During the call, the kids were climbing on my arms and legs, trying to get their ears closer to phone to hear what the military personnel were saying. What did they say? Are the soldiers coming? I could not bear to tell them the truth, that the officers did not care what happened to them, so I lied. Yeah, they are on their way here; just wait a few more minutes.

Finally, the kids’ patience ran out, and they set off on the longer path that skirts along the perimeter of Havat Ma’on outpost. Mere minutes after setting out on the sixty-minute journey over rough, rocky hills, the kids spotted a settler in the trees that obscure the outpost. The kids scrambled in retreat while I struggled to turn on my video camera as I ran backwards.  After getting a safe distance from the place where they saw the settler, the older kids in the group discussed our options and decided we should descend into the adjacent valley, to distance ourselves from the outpost, and continue heading towards Tuba and Maghayir Al-Abeed.

The older children were confident in their choice—they have made important decisions like this countless times before. The instant we started to head deeper into the valley, my colleague, who was watching from a nearby hilltop, called to say three settlers were moving down the valley in our direction. Before she finished speaking, I yelled to the kids, “Come back here, quickly, there are three settlers coming down the hill towards us; they are masked!” My warning passed quickly to the front of the group, and the kids again quickly distanced themselves further from the outpost. Once we stopped, I saw that several of the younger children were distraught.  One young girl, Inshirah, was pacing back and forth with her hands on her head, her whole body shaking. She was pleading with everyone, or with no one in particular, to go back and wait for the army. Biddish amshi fil tariq had, ana khayfe min il mustawtaneen (Please, I don’t want to walk on this path, please, I’m scared of the settlers).

Villagers from at-Tuwani came out towards us once they saw the settlers approaching. One of the village leaders, Khaled, shouted instructions to the children. As more at-Tuwani villagers began to stream out of their houses in support, the Israeli Border Police arrived.

The settlers, still masked, approached the jeep and spoke with the Border Police officers, gesturing and pointing, apparently narrating their version of events before heading back to the outpost.  Khaled and I approached the Border Police; I began by complaining of the late arrival of the military escort and demanding that action be taken against the settlers’ threatening behavior. Khaled spoke at length with another policeman who suggested the source of the problem was the schoolchildren walking too close to the outpost, which forced the settlers to come out. He also suggested that the at-Tuwani villagers routinely provoke the settlers, and the international activists are on hand to document the settlers’ response to the Palestinians’ provocations.  Khaled remained calm and refuted the Border policeman’s claims by recounting the details of several recent attacks against his own family as well as explaining the consistent trend of violence and land annexation since the establishment of Ma’on settlement in 1981.

After hearing from the military that they were not providing an escort for the schoolchildren that day, the Border Police agreed to escort the children on the direct path to Tuba and Maghayir al-Abeed. They opened up the back door of the jeep to keep an eye on the children following behind the jeep. I saw them laughing as the jeep sped up and the kids, some of whom were still shaking in fear, had to run to catch up. 

Given that more than 110 acts of settler aggression have been documented against one small group of children in the span of six years, one wonders how many thousands more attacks on children have happened across the West Bank in the same period.  These incidents do not make international news, Israeli news, or even Palestinian news—settlers killing Palestinians, home demolitions, and the ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem are bigger news items than masked thugs chasing kids after school. But the children targeted by these acts of settler aggression, are forever scarred—both by the attacks and by the system that deems them unworthy of protection.  Nevertheless, the children from Tuba and Maghayir al-Abeed are living examples of samoud— resolute steadfastness.  They refuse to let acts of aggression and violence deny them access to education, and continue to struggle against the occupation of their land by making the journey to school each day.  

 [1] Christian Peacemaker Teams and Operation Dove, “The Dangerous Road to Education: Palestinian Students Suffer Under Settler Violence and Military Negligence,” December 2010.

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Masked Israeli settlers chase schoolchildren, give directions to Border Police

8 February 2011

(CPT)

[Note: According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Hague Regulations, the International Court of Justice, and several United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements and outposts in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal.  Most settlement outposts, including Havat Ma'on (Hill 833), are considered illegal also under Israeli law.]  

At-Tuwani, South Hebron Hills, West Bank—On the afternoon of 7 February 2011, three Israeli settlers from the Havat Ma’on outpost chased a group of twelve Palestinian schoolchildren who were walking home from school.  The Israeli military had failed to arrive to escort the schoolchildren, forcing the children to take a longer path without the army’s escort.

Shortly after the schoolchildren and Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) volunteers set out on the path towards Tuba and Maghayir al-Abeed villages, Israeli settlers, two of whom were masked, emerged from the grouping of trees that encompass Havat Ma’on and began moving towards the children.  Upon seeing the settlers, the children turned and sprinted to distance themselves from the settlers.  Several children cried and screamed as they ran away from the settlers; one young girl began shaking uncontrollably as soon as she stopped running from the settlers.

The Israeli Border Police, who were located on an adjacent hill for the duration of the incident, arrived at the scene after the Palestinian children had safely distanced themselves from the settlers.  The Border Police stopped and spoke with the settlers, two of whom remained masked during the entire conversation.

The Border Police then approached the edge of At-Tuwani village where the children, CPT volunteers, and Palestinian adults had gathered.  Border Police officers spoke with a CPT volunteer and an At-Tuwani resident, seeking to understand what had happened.  After hearing their accounts but refusing to hear the role the settlers had played, the officers suggested that the Palestinian children, internationals, and At-Tuwani villagers were the ones causing problems, rather than the settlers.

Before the children had set out on the longer path without the military escort, CPT volunteers had called the Israeli military four times inquiring as to the whereabouts of the escort.  During CPT’s final call to the military—more than thirty minutes after their initial call—the military dispatch office said that they had not yet called the soldiers who were to provide the escort, because they had more important duties to perform.

The Border Police officers eventually escorted the children home, but all of them remained in their jeep, laughing, as the children walked behind the jeep, visibly shaken.

Video of masked settlers giving direction to Israeli Border Police is available here.
Pictures of masked settlers giving directions to Israeli Border Police are available here.

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