1 April 2010
AT-TUWANI: Israeli army fails to safely escort Palestinian school children to and from school and subjects them to verbal abuse
[Note: According to the Geneva Conventions, the International Court of Justice in the Hague, and numerous United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) are illegal. Most settlement outposts are considered illegal under Israeli law.]
For three consecutive days Palestinian school children from Maghayir al Abeed and Tuba were subjected to unprofessional conduct by Israeli soldiers. Army personnel did not show up at the appropriate time, forcing children to wait in unsafe areas were they have experienced past attacks. When the army did finally arrive, they proceeded to yell at the children. On one occasion, the army failed to complete the escort, resulting in harassment of the children by settlers.
On Tuesday 23 March, CPTers called the army three times before the afternoon escort finally arrived. The soldiers’ behavior resulted in the children arriving home forty-five minutes late.
On Wednesday 24 March, CPTers called the army three times before the afternoon escort arrived. When the army finally arrived, the soldiers began to yell at the children to hurry up the road. The children rushed to gather their belongings and one young girl left her sweater behind. When CPTer Jessica Frederick urged the soldiers to be patient, a soldier replied, “We have missions to do.” Frederick told him that escorting the children was one of their missions, but the soldier answered, “No, we have missions to do, and this is a bonus.”
On Thursday 25 March, after escorting the children partway to At-Tuwani, the soldiers drove away, leaving the children to walk alone past two Israeli settlers. The children ran down the road to At-Tuwani when they saw the settlers pick up stones because they believed the settlers would throw the stones at them based on past experiences. During afternoon school patrol, CPTers called the army escort three times. The children waited thirty-five minutes for the escort to arrive.
The children require a military escort to and from school because of repeated attacks by Israeli settlers from Ma’on settlement and Havat Ma’on outpost. When the Israeli military does not arrive on time to accompany the children, they must wait in an area of de facto settler control, a location where settlers have attacked the children on a number of occasions in the past. The most recent attack was on 22 February 2010. (See release, AT-TUWANI: Israeli settlers intimidate Palestinian schoolchildren after Israeli military neglects escort.)
For a complete report on the school escort in 2007-2008, including maps, photographs and interviews with the children, please see “A Dangerous Journey”.