Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Interview with H., At-Tuwani Nonviolent Activist

The people of At-Tuwani live simply and off the land. We depended on agriculture and grazing animals. Before the Israeli settlers arrived in the 1980’s and took land, Palestinian families were able to graze more animals. It was not uncommon for small families to have 100+ sheep and larger families to have 500+ sheep. As a kid I raised and grazed sheep where the illegal Israeli settlement, Ma’on is now situated.
People in this area want food for their family and want to simply live; to live without struggle. Some sheep and land, this is enough. But there is not much hope. We have lived under occupation we don’t want our children growing up under it. Israel took not only our land but our rights. We want our rights back.
For more of this wonderful interview, check out At-Tuwani Online

Monday, August 25, 2008

In the lawless South Hebron Hills, things are wild as usual: The settlers continue to attack shepherd children with clubs and stones, to steal their sheep and to make their lives miserable, while the Israel Police continue to abuse anyone who tries to file a complaint against the settlers.

Another excellent article from Giddeon Levy

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Well, it's been a while since I've posted. Sorry about that. It's been busy and I've been tired. I've been in the middle of one of those times when what I see has felt so overwhelming that I don't know what to say about it.

But Tuwani is still filled with new beginning and opportunities for change. A. had a healthy baby boy. His name is Tamar and he is one of those children who will be beautiful from his first breath. We sat and stared at him, the joy of his very existence was too overwhelming for words. Soon we found something to laugh about. A. told us that she drove to the hospital one the one day the when roadblock was removed and the road to Yatta open. She smiled and I shock my head with the wonder of it all.

So here are prayers for Tamar to always find open roads in his life.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dear Israeli Military: Stop Toying with my Emotions!

It's a simple story. A couple of days ago (I've lost track of time, so I'm a little hazy. Sorry) the Israeli military took down the huge roadblock that has been stopping water delivery this summer. Everyone in Tuwani was happy. This morning I called a taxi and enjoyed waiting for it's arrival at my house, while I ate some breakfast. I hopped in and I enjoyed the wind coming through the window. I started to relax. But then we pulled out of the Tuwani road and I see a 3 ft. high mound of dirt blocking our path. While the driver pulled a few death-defying maunvers, I shock my head unable to process what I was seeing. A new road block. Not as bad as the last, but still enough to prevent water trucks. I picked up the phone to rely the bad news.

And this is all I have to say - I would apperciate it if the Israeli military would kindly keep the road open for more than 24-hours at a time. People need water. Moreover, people have a right to freedom of movement. And it would do my stress level some good too.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Israel's war by water

Ron, a good friend of mine and of Tuwani's, has written up a wonderful article published at the New Statesmen. He mentioned the situation in At-Tuwani specifically:

In Area C there are many villages and hamlets that, unlike the neighbouring Israeli settlements, are not connected to the water network. The people here rely on springs, wells and collecting surface-water in cisterns, but it is not enough. Connection to the mains would make a huge difference to life in these rural communities. But there is a snag. They need permission to build any kind of structure and even if their documentation is in order, the final say lies with the Israel Defence Forces civil administration. A recent UN report records that between 2000 and 2007, 94 per cent of building permit applications submitted by Palestinians living in Area C were denied.

One of the scores of unconnected villages in the south Hebron hills is at-Tuwani. A village leader, Hafez, is clearly worried. "The settlements are connected to the network but when we want to build new cisterns the Israelis won't give us permission. If we build them the army will knock them down."

Friday, August 08, 2008

Christian Destruct-o Teams!

The things that we overhear in the South Hebron Hills constantly astound and amuse me. But a few weeks ago, a soldier in a mushroom-shaped camo hat opened this mouth and topped everything I’ve heard so far.

We were standing at a flying checkpoint inside At-Tuwani that soldiers told us would last from 9 pm to 6 am and no one, Palestinian, Israeli, or otherwise, was very happy. The mayor of At-Tuwani, a man with far more patience than I have, was managing to have a discussion with one of the soldiers.

“Who are these people?” the soldier asked, indicating my teammates.

“You know, they’re hariket isalaam (the peace movement),” replied the mayor.

“No,” retorted the soldier. “They’re hariket il harb (the movement of destruction).”

But the soldier wasn’t done educating our Palestinian partners about us yet. “You know,”he said, “They only do this because they’re making lots of money.”

I think that At-Tuwani’s mayor cracked a disbelieving smile as he looked at over at us, in dirty clothes and holding bargain basement cameras. My teammates were busting up in the background, not even trying to contain their laughter. All I can say is that I’m still waiting for my check.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Excerpts from the excellent article: "Pictures from Summer Camp"

At 6:45 a.m. this morning, our friend, Joel Gulledge, called from At-Tuwani, a village in the West Bank where he and another Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) member were escorting Palestinian children to a local summer daycamp, protecting them from hostile Israeli settlers. A masked settler, carrying a slingshot, was threatening the children. While Jan Benvie, the other CPT team member, raced the children to safety, Joel paused to film what was happening. The masked settler caught up with Joel and attacked him. "He smashed my head again and again," said Joel, "with my video camera, and punched me in the face, repeatedly, with his other hand." Joel managed to remain standing. He didn't fight back, but he screamed for help. The attacker broke Joel's glasses, and Joel was bleeding from a gash over his eyes. When he called, he was waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

Earlier this week, CPT's website, reported that on Wednesday 23 July, "three Israeli settlers, one masked and wielding a stick, pursued fourteen Palestinian children who were on their way to a summer camp in At-Tuwani. The children from the villages of Tuba and Maghaer Al-Abeed waited thirty minutes for the Israeli military escort that should have accompanied them on the most direct road between the villages of Tuba and At-Tuwani. When the military failed to arrive, the children began walking along a long path through the hills to At-Tuwani. When the children neared the Israeli settlement outpost of Havat Ma'on, three settlers with two dogs came out from the outpost and began walking in the direction of the children."

More of this excellent article, by the always amazing Kathy Kelly, here.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Police Arresting Kristin Anderson

At-Tuwani: Urgent Action Update
3 Sunday 2008

On Sunday 3 August 2008, human rights worker Kristin Anderson was released from Israeli police custody, but the Israeli police have taken no steps to prevent setter violence in the South Hebron Hills. CPT urges you to contact the Israeli police at Kiryat Arba and demand immediate action to prevent further setter attacks on Palestinian school children. Over the last two weeks settlers have attacked Palestinian children on their way to summer camp four times. Settlers continue to yell, chase, curse, and throw rocks at the children, while Israeli police refuse to apprehend perpetrators. In November 2004 the Israeli Knesset declared that the Israeli police are responsible for apprehending violent settlers.

Please call the police and demand justice:
Kiryat Arba Contact Numbers:
(Add your applicable country code first)

Sunday, August 03, 2008


The Children's March to Tuba was amazing. Though the army prevented any internationals from walking with the children and their parents, as usual they certainly didn't need us. Palestinians marched up a road that they haven't been able to use for 11 years.

This was one of the most moving sights I've ever seen.

The march wasn't without is problems - the military declared the whole south Hebron hills a closed military zone (we're advised that was illegal) and attacked two adults. Also, police arrested a member of Operation Dove. She's been released - stay tuned for details.

Here's the press release we sent out:

On 2 August, more than one hundred children and their parents from the South Hebron Hills marched from the village of At-Tuwani to the village of Tuba, calling for an end to settler violence and settlement expansion in the area. The march was a part of the annual South Hebron Hills summer camp for children and a response to recent settler attacks on children walking to the summer camp in At-Tuwani.

The children and their parents, accompanied by a few Israelis and internationals, took the most direct path to the village of Tuba. For the past eleven years, school children escorted by the Israeli military have been the only Palestinians able to use this road. Palestinian parents organized the march to call attention to the violence faced by school children, the failure of the Israeli army to protect them and the effects of Israeli settlement expansion.

The march initially attempted to take the path that children use when unaccompanied by the Israeli military, around the settlement outpost Havat Ma’on (Hill 833)—which the Israeli government ordered dismantled in 2006. The Israeli military then declared the whole area a closed military zone and restrained the march with force, targeting leaders. Seeing a soldiers attack and try to arrest a Palestinian man, a CPTer tried to intervene. Soldiers knocked them both down and started choking the CPTer. Other participants in the demonstration then intervened nonviolently and stopped the attack. An Israeli and Kristin Anderson—who has worked both with CPT and Operation Dove (an Italian peace group that, with CPT, forms the At-Tuwani team)—were arrested.

Palestinian organizers negotiated with the soldiers, and the Israeli military agreed to accompany the children and parents on the short path, using the road between Ma’on settlement and Havat Ma’on (Hill 833).

A large group of settlers came out of Ma’on and harassed the marchers. A smaller group of settlers followed directly behind the marchers, but Israeli military and police prevented them from attacking the group. One village elder accompanying the children walked this road for the first time in years. Surprised by the settlement expansion, she shared with a soldier about how she plowed this land years ago.

Participating in the march were children from the villages of Tuba and Maghaer Al-Abeed, whom settlers have regularly attacked as they walked to primary school in At-Tuwani. The children rely on an Israeli military escort to accompany them to school and prevent Israeli settlers from attacking them, but the Israeli military has recently declined to carry out the escort for summer camp. The most recent settler attack took place on 27 July, when the Israeli military refused to escort the children. Settlers flung rocks at the children with slingshots and physically assaulted CPTer Joel Gulledge, inflicting a head wound requiring stitches.

For a photo of the march, see http://cpt.org/gallery/album257.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Wish Us all Luck! (Well, that's kind of an understatement.)

Today a group of Palestinian children will be marching from Tuwani to Tuba to call attention to the danger faced by children coming to school. The children, adult Palestinians, and internationals will take a route where the children have recently been chased by settlers brandishing sticks. Additionally, the group will deliver a demolition order to a new settlement house that is a part of illegal settlement expansion.

Here's to the bravery of these children and a successful march!