Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

AT-TUWANI RELEASE: Israeli Settler Blocks Schoolchildren’s Path after Israeli Soldiers Fail to Escort Children to School

[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 (OPT) are illegal. Most settlement outposts are considered illegal under Israeli law.]

11 January 2009

On Sunday morning, 10 January 2010, the Israeli military failed to escort Palestinian schoolchildren from Tuba to school in At-Tuwani in time for end of term exams. The army’s failure to undertake the escort at the correct time forced the children to wait for over an hour in an area where they have frequently been attacked by Israeli settlers. When the children attempted to walk an alternative route without the army, a masked settler blocked their path.

As normal, the schoolchildren left their homes in Tuba when they saw the army escort jeep at around 7:30 am, but by the time they arrived at the meeting point the army had left. The children, accompanied by two volunteers from Operation Dove (Doves), waited within sight of Havat Ma'on outpost, while Doves, CPTers and Israeli Human Rights workers made numerous calls to the Israeli military.

After an hour the children, anxious to get to school because they had important end of term exams, decided to walk to At-Tuwani through the hills. A settler from the outpost drove to a point where the children's route crosses a small road, and waited to intercept them there. CPTers observing from a nearby hilltop were able to alert the Doves and children that the settler was on the road. When the children saw the masked settler walking towards them, the younger ones began to cry and all of the children ran back to Tuba.

Meanwhile, CPTers called the Israeli police and asked them to accompany the children. At 9am the Israeli police, Ma'on settlement security guard and two Israeli army soldiers arrived at the chicken barns. The police vehicle quickly left the area and the Israeli soldiers walked with the children towards At-Tuwani, followed by the Israeli settlement security guard. The soldiers walked with the children only part-way along the road to At-Tuwani then got into the settlement security guard's vehicle and left the area. The children ran the remainder of the way, arriving an hour and a half late for school.

The children require a military escort to and from school, because of repeated attacks by Israeli settlers from Ma’on settlement and Havat Ma’on outpost. When the Israeli military does not arrive on time to accompany the children to Tuwani, they must wait in an area controlled by the Israeli settlers, a location where settlers have attacked the young Palestinian children on a number of occasions in the past. The most recent attack was less than two weeks ago, on 30 December 2009 (see release, *AT-TUWANI: Israeli army negligence permits Israeli settler attack on children, at* http://sn.im/u1qm0)

For a complete report on the school escort in 2007-2008, including maps, photographs and interviews with the children, please see “A Dangerous Journey” at <http://www.cpt.org/files/Dangerous-Journey-Summary-2008.pdf>

A report for the school year 2008-2009 is forthcoming.

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