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, March 31, 2010

TUBA RELEASE: Israeli soldiers ransack Palestinian homes and damage belongings in Tuba village


A CPT press release below, and some of my own personal notes from the incident follow the release:
On March 31, the Israeli Special Police Forces entered the Palestinian village of Tuba, immediately east of Ma'on settlement, and destroyed household belongings in two homes in the village. The police forced Tuba residents from their homes and told them that they were searching for two goats which settlers from the outpost of Havat Ma'on had reported missing.

The police also accused the villagers of possessing weapons, and while questioning nearly a dozen villagers, the police upended nearly every belonging in both homes. The police ransacked three bedrooms, a kitchen, and a storage unit. International activists and Tuba residents reported that the police left the scene without confiscating any weapons or sheep and without making any arrests. During the search police personnel refused to let international activists observe the search of the homes or the interrogations of the residents.

Additional relevant information: The village of Tuba lies near the Israeli outpost of Havat Ma'on, and shepherds from the village are frequently forced from their grazing land near the outpost. During March, shepherds, international activists, and members of the Israeli peace organization, Taayush, participated in a series of nonviolent actions in an attempt to prevent the Israeli military from forcing Tuba shepherds and sheep from their grazing land. On multiple occasions in March, Israeli soldiers declared an area of land including the village of Tuba to be a closed military zone forcing all Palestinian shepherds to leave the area. The soldiers also arrested Israeli activists who refused to leave the area.

Children from Tuba who attend school in At-Tuwani must walk with a military escort through through Havat Ma'on to reach their school. They are frequently subjected to threats and assaults from settlers.

[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.]
We saw the police vehicles arriving in Tuba as I was a couple of kilometers away. We immediately gave chase and arrived within 20 minutes. The police refused to allow us to come close to the houses, where the searches and interrogations were taking place, because this was an area of "police business." There were probably 15-20 Israeli police and these are the riot-type police who show up and demonstrations and other "special-forces-type operations." I called Abed*, one of the villagers to try to find out what was happening inside, he answered in a very soft voice and almost immediately said, "Kull shi kwayyes, mish mushkile" (Everything is fine, there's no problem), and hung up. I could hear a voice in the background as Abed was speaking, which I later found out, was a policeman telling him, "tell them everything is fine and then hang up...TELL THEM everythning is FINE!" Abed told me how the phone call transpired, his eyes emitting a sense of defeat, "Sam, I wanted to tell you what was going on, but they were turning over my house and asking about my sons, what was I supposed to do?"

The police asked the villagers about their income, why they have a vegetable garden, why their sons aren't home, if they have weapons in the house, and seemed to express knowledge about the living arrangements (as if they had some intelligence). They walked around to adjacent villages and passerbyers and questioned them about these two missing goats. As Abed was explaining the scene of them upending his house, he asked rhetorically, "so did they think they would find the goats between the matresses, or in the drawers, or in the kitchen? They are liars, Sam, liars. We lead an honest life, according to God's teachings, and we are treated like this all because of some lies about the settlers' goats? You see how the occupation treats the Palestinians? You see?"

1 comment:

Steve said...

Sam. No words to describe the frustration and irritation the villagers must have. Keep up the sharing. More people need to understand. Steve