Israeli authorities are stepping up aggression in the South Hebron Hills, particularly in response to Palestinian migrant laborers.
On the morning of 2 February, Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian man on the Israeli side of the border near the Palestinian village of Jinba and the Israeli settlement of Beit Yatir. Taysir Manasra, from the Hebron-area village of Bani Na'im, was attempting to travel into Israel for work. CPTers, along with other human rights workers, arrived to find a bullet-riddled car, a pool of blood, and soldiers and police detaining about ten Palestinian men. Manasra's corpse had just been removed from the scene.
Other Palestinians told the internationals that they had already been detained when Manasra drove his car through an army ambush. The soldiers had ordered them to lie face down before they shot at Manasra's car and killed him.
The same morning, Israeli soldiers set up a checkpoint on the Palestinian road from at-Tuwani to al-Birkeh. They stopped two Palestinian vehicles, removing and physically assaulting the drivers.
One of the drivers delivers goods to at-Tuwani. Although he showed valid documents, both for his van and the road he was using, the soldiers removed and confiscated his license plates. The man told CPTers indignantly, "I am an older man, and I showed them my papers, but they still shoved me and hit me!"
The other driver transports Palestinian school children daily between at-Tuwani and the village of Susiya (three km southwest). He also showed the soldiers valid papers. One of the soldiers grabbed him and struck him repeatedly on the face and upper body before letting him go.
The following day, Israeli soldiers arrested a Palestinian at his home in Mufagara, one km southwest of at-Tuwani. They claimed that the van parked outside his home was not correctly registered. He showed the soldiers his documents, which they confiscated. The man, a well-known local peace activist, calmly agreed to go with the soldiers in order to settle the dispute. The soldiers handcuffed him, placed a black hood over his head, and drove him away in an army humvee.
Since Israel sealed the West Bank behind a separation barrier and subsequently destroyed its economy (unemployment is currently around 20%), growing numbers of Palestinian men travel to Israel for work. Under Israeli law it is illegal for Palestinians to cross the 1949 Green Line (the internationally recognized border between Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories) without a permit, which is extremely difficult to obtain.
Along part of the West Bank's border near the Israeli town of Be'er Sheva, the barrier is not yet completed. At-Tuwani, five km north of the border, lies directly on the primary route traveled by Palestinian workers.
Continuing CPT's work in at-Tuwani this year will cost U.S.$112,000.