Friday, September 28, 2007

A teammate of mine was attacked by Israeli settlers living in the Havat Ma'on outpost. She is unhurt (thank God), but her video camera was stolen and I'm sure that she was shaken. She's giving testimony at the police station as I type.

Prayers for her, the settlers who did this, and the rest of our team would be appreciated.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Settlers enter village in the South Hebron Hills, assault Palestinians

As I've said, lately our life in the South Hebron Hills has been quiet. I've been sitting peacefully on the hillside surrounded by goats and sheep and the settlers living in Havat Ma'on have not tried to prevent Palestinian shepherds from completing their grazing. But a few days ago, settlers attacked Palestinians living in the village of Tuba, the home of the children that we accompany on their way to school in at-Tuwani. Here are the details of the attack.

September, 24, 2007

On September 23rd, shortly before sundown, ten Israeli settlers entered the village of Tuba in the South Hebron Hills. The settlers threw stones, hitting a woman and her adult son. Settlers remained in the village for about an hour. Israeli partners called police at 5:30pm to report the incident. Police did not arrive in Tuba until 7:30pm after the settlers had already left.

Tuba, a village of about 75 people, has experienced on-going harassment by settlers from the nearby Israeli settlement of Ma’on, and illegal outpost Havat Ma’on. School aged children from Tuba are accompanied to school in nearby At-Tuwani by an Israeli military escort because of repeated attacks on the children by settlers. In April of this year, three girls were injured when settlers attacked the children on their way home from school and stole two of the children’s book bags. Two weeks ago, the Israeli military demolished an outpost tent the settlers had built illegally on Tuba land. Local Palestinians report that settlers began rebuilding the structure almost immediately. (see At-Tuwani Release: Demolition in South Hebron Hills, September 09, 2007)

Amira Hass: Disrupting the Separation Policy

Here are some excerpts from Amira Hass' wonderful article in Ha'aretz. For more, visit their website. It's well worth reading.

A woman chatting idly in Ramallah on Sunday said dismissively: "The High Court of Justice's decision to move the separation fence in Bil'in proves nothing about the effectiveness of the popular Palestinian-Israeli struggle. Israel needs it to portray itself as a democracy."

Her frustration is understandable. The lives of tens of thousands of Palestinians are disrupted by a fence whose route elsewhere is no less "disproportionate" than it was in Bil'in. After two and a half years of weekly demonstrations by Palestinians, left-wing Israelis and foreign activists - demonstrations that were brutally dispersed, with numerous protesters being injured or arrested - the fence was moved a mere 1.7 kilometers. And the same High Court that moved the fence also legitimized the Jewish neighborhood that had already been built on Bil'in's private land....

...But those frustrated by the limited impact of Israeli anti-occupation activity are ignoring two of its salient characteristics. First, by helping to return one dunam of land to one individual, enabling farmers to complete an olive harvest without harassment and attacks by settlers, shortening the waiting time at a checkpoint or releasing a patient or a minor from detention without trial, life is made a bit less difficult for particular individuals at a given moment...

...Moreover, this immediate personal relief is interwoven into a more fundamental, longer-term Israeli-Palestinian struggle against the occupation. Since the 1990s, Israel has endeavored to separate the two peoples. It has restricted opportunities to meet and get to know one another outside the master-serf framework, VIP meetings or luxurious overseas peace showcases from which the term "occupation" is completely absent.

Because of this separation, the Palestinians know only settlers and soldiers - in other words, only those whose conduct and roles in the system justify the Palestinians' conclusion that it is impossible to reach a just agreement and peace with Israel. This separation also reinforces Israelis' racist - or at best, patronizing - attitudes toward the Palestinians.

Meet the South Hebron Hills!

This is my dear friend Mary the donkey and two of the children who come from Tuba to school in Tuwani. Aren't they gorgeous?

by Eileen

(Well, I suddenly have internet access, so I have a flurry of posts to get out. This is a reflection written by one of my wonderful teammates.)

The last two Friday nights, the Israeli army set up a ‘flying’ (temporary, mobile) checkpoint just outside Tuwani. Checkpoints on the highway beside Tuwani are a regular occurrence. One jeep, four soldiers and a string of spikes across the road constitute a checkpoint. Each time the soldiers show up, we go down to the road to monitor what is happening. We document the checkpoint, as well as any searches that take place and are present to respond in case of abuses.

Typically these temporary checkpoints last a few hours. Soldiers stop cars, check ID’s and search a few trunks. Much of the traffic in the area is actually foot traffic, people walking from villages around Tuwani to and from the nearby city of Yatta. Men, women and children, including infants in their mothers’ arms, are checked. Aside from settler traffic on the highway, which does not have to stop, soldiers mostly see a lot of tractors and sheep trailers. I wondered this Friday if they were going to search the sheep!

After seeing this countless times and failing to see the point, last night I asked one young soldier on duty what they were doing. He said they were “looking for stolen cars or weapons.” Still curious I followed up, “Do you find a lot of weapons this way?” “No. The people with the weapons see the checkpoint and make a U-turn. There’s nothing we can do.” Since I felt he understood me, and also because I was tired of standing around on a cold windy night, I pressed a bit and said, “So that makes this kind of pointless, huh?” Now were both smiling, and he said, “Yes. If it were up to me, I’d be home in bed.”

They can’t possibly find anything using this method. Not that I'm convinced there's anything to find. The soldiers and jeeps are visible from a half mile away. Anyone who might be trying to move contraband could simply wait until the soldiers leave. Everyone knows this, including the soldiers.

But there must be some point to it. Otherwise why are these soldiers ordered time and time again to set up these checkpoints?

On Saturday, soldiers again set up a flying checkpoint just outside Tuwani. This group of soldiers seemed particularly dangerous. They were wrestling with one another and pointing the laser guides of their automatic weapons at objects in the darkness. They were rude and rowdy, particularly as the evening wore on. When they turned up the American rock and roll music, I wondered if this is what the US occupation in Iraq looks like.

After waving a pick-up truck along, one soldier pointed the laser guide of his automatic weapon at the abdomen of the young boy riding in the back of the truck. The boy said something, and then the laser point moved, appearing next on the child’s face.

It was then I thought I could see the point, tragic and awful as it is. It isn’t about finding weapons or stolen cars. It’s not about finding the bad guy. It’s a display of power. Checkpoints are a way of reminding everyone, even the kids, who’s in charge. If that’s the point, then these flying checkpoints certainly do that.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Well, both a lot and very little has happened since I last wrote. I've flown around the world, from the United States to Palestine, and I'm now back in the West Bank. I'm living in Tuwani, a tiny village located in the South Hebron hills, next to the Ma'on settlement and it's outpost. Palestinian children coming to school in Tuwani and Palestinian shepherds graving their sheep have been attacked by settlers living the outpost.

Tuwani is a very beautiful place and thankfully since I've been in the village, very little has happened. Mostly, children have gotten to school on time and safely and, by and large, Palestinians have been able to graze their sheep quietly. I've spent most of my time recovering from a vicious attack waged by the Tuwani bacteria. But I'm back to good health again.

I've been able to visit Bethlehem and Hebron as well. Hebron, in particular, is looking up. The city government is paying shop owners 200 NIS a month to keep their shops in the old city open during Ramadan. The old city is normally a ghost town, as Israeli settlers often throw trash down at Palestinian shops and harass them in other ways. But today I could hardly recognize it. So many shops are open. It's beautiful to see.

I must get on with life here, so I'll wrap this up. God willing, things will continue to be quiet and I'll continue to have very little to say.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I'm safely back in Jerusalem and it's time for bed. 

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.