AT-TUWANI REFLECTION: "Resistance will not be tolerated"-from Gaza to At-Tuwani
by CPT Tuwani team members
At the time of this writing, casualties in the ten-day Gaza conflict have reached approximately 699 Palestinians and ten Israelis, according to news reports. Here in at-Tuwani, in the West Bank's South Hebron district, we witness Palestinians' mourning and outrage over Israel's latest military actions. At the same time, we witness army collusion with settlers' harassment and attacks of Palestinians.
On Sunday, 4 January 2009, two team members observed a confrontation between Israeli military forces and a group of around twenty Palestinian youth outside the Palestinian town of al-Birkeh ("The Pool" in Arabic). Army and police jeeps had parked along the dirt road between at-Tuwani and Yatta, and the Palestinian youth were shouting at soldiers and police from a hillside above. A white truck with Israeli license plates approached a police jeep and two settler men got out, one armed with an automatic rifle. They spoke with the Israeli police, then drove up toward the Palestinian youth, who quickly ran off toward al-Birkeh. Some Israeli army jeeps pursued the youth up the road toward the town.
The CPTers heard the sound of gunfire and percussion grenades sporadically. Then, after twenty minutes, the Israeli settlers again spoke with the soldiers and then drove away. The following day, Palestinian residents of al-Birkeh told us they had seen armed Israeli settlers in the town the previous morning.
This event should be considered within a broader context. Popular Palestinian outcry against the killing in Gaza has resulted in heavier deployments of Israeli troops and, in central Hebron, U.S. and E.U.-sponsored Palestinian police. Both there and in the rural South Hebron Hills, Israeli settler civilians continue to demonstrate through words and actions their commitment to a Palestinian exodus from the region. The Israeli army and police institutionalize that commitment by guarding the settlers wherever they wish to move.
Even though at-Tuwani remains devoid of protests and the villagers have focused by necessity upon the basic work of survival--plowing fields, digging cisterns, educating youngsters--local army and settler behavior compound the message that from Gaza to the West Bank, "Control is ours; no resistance will be tolerated."