Saturday, September 01, 2007

Additional Information of the Dismantled Wall Outside Tuwani

20 August 2007
AT-TUWANI: "Security" wall along Route 317 dismantled

On 7 August 2007, members of CPT observed the dismantling of the "security wall" along Route 317. Upon investigating, they saw a crew of workers under Israeli supervision taking the wall down just past the road connecting At-Tuwani to Yatta. By the end of the day, no wall remained in the area.

The short wall--as it came to be known for its 80-cm height--along route 317 was constructed the previous summer, reaching the village of At-Tuwani on 14 June 2006. It consisted of six-meter-long slabs of preformed concrete that fit together in a tongue and groove pattern. The Israeli military had originally planned the Separation/Apartheid to run along route 317 but the Israeli Supreme Court had rejected the plan. The military built the short wall instead, under the auspices of security, despite the fact that, given its height, a person in reasonably good physical condition could climb over it. Its actual effect was to greatly reduce access to the economic and social hub of Yatta for the people of the South Hebron Hills, and to cut off shepherds from their land on the other side of the wall. The Israeli army could also more easily stop all vehicle traffic from Tuwani and the surrounding villages to Yatta and the villages to the north, because the wall had only two small openings that were frequently the sites of "flying checkpoints." In July of 2006, the Israeli military temporarily closed even these openings with cement blocks.

Last summer, the people of At-Tuwani and nearby villages, with the support of Israeli and international peace activists, organized demonstrations against the building of the wall. Eventually, they won a court decision that declared the wall illegal. The Israeli army delayed in implementing that court decision for some time.

Asked about the way events unfolded, a village leader for nonviolent activity said, "The IDF routinely disregards Israeli court decisions. We believe what happened is a success for the people's nonviolent resistance. This is a very important step."

The village plans to hold an action to celebrate the dismantling of the wall in the near future.

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