[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 are illegal. Most settlement outposts are considered illegal under Israeli law.]
Summary: In the South Hebron hills, April was a month of harvesting. Palestinian residents continued their nonviolent resistance by pursuing daily tasks—harvesting crops, grazing their flocks, attending school—despite Israeli settler and army interference with all of these activities. In addition, four village leaders from the area, accompanied by a CPTer, attended the 5th Annual Bil’in International Conference on Palestinian Popular Resistance on April 21.
CPTers continued to monitor the military escort of school children from Tuba and Maghayir al Abeed as they walked to and from school in At-Tuwani, as well as accompanying shepherds and farmers working in their fields and teachers and children traveling to school in Al Fakheit.
Present on team during April were Tarek Abuata, Janet Benvie, Laura Ciaghi, Cassandra Dixon, Joy Ellison, Jessica Frederick, Sarah MacDonald, Sam Nichols, Sandra Milena Rincon and Ryan Schiffer.
Thursday 1 April
In the afternoon, CPTers observed the military escort leave before the schoolchildren reached the end of the settlement; the children were thus unaccompanied in an area where settlers have attacked them.
Thursday 15 April
During morning school patrol, a settler vehicle drove into the midst of the children, forcing them to jump out of the way. The soldiers escorting the children did not respond in any way. Nor were the soldiers walking with the children, in contravention of the recommendations of the Israeli Knesset Committee for the Rights of the Child. CPTers observed that the driver of the car was the settler who attacked CPTers and Palestinians in November.
Settler violence and property damage
Monday 5 April
Members of Operation Dove, returning to At-Tuwani after accompanying shepherds in the grazing fields near the village of Tuba, encountered a masked settler. The settler shouted at them and kicked one of them.
Friday 9 April
A Palestinian farmer asked CPTers for accompaniment to his land, where settlers had grazed their flock in his wheat fields during the middle of the night. He estimated that the grazing destroyed all the wheat in one field and 20% in another.
Thursday 15 April
Members of Operation Dove observed a settler grazing his flock in a Palestinian wheat field.
Tuesday 20 April
Three settlers, one masked, threw stones at Palestinians returning to At-Tuwani by tractor. No one was hurt.
Saturday 24 April
Palestinians told CPTers that settlers damaged a well and water trough located in a cave near Avigail settlement outpost. In addition to smashing the water trough, settlers threw rocks and dirt into the cave and the wellspring. The owner of the well told CPTers he had informed the Israeli military; soldiers told him that they would not take any action and even accused him of destroying the well in order to blame settlers.
Monday 26 April
A CPTer accompanied a Palestinian family as they harvested by the settlement outpost. Two days earlier, settlers had started a fire in their field and destroyed some crops, as well as damaging some of the terracing. The settlers had run away when a Palestinian saw them and shouted.
Harassment of Palestinian shepherds
Saturday 3 April
Soldiers forbade shepherds from grazing their sheep in Khelli, a valley located between At-Tuwani and Ma’on settlement. Later, several shepherds gathered with their flocks in Umm Zeitun valley, near the village of Tuba, accompanied by CPTers and members of the Israeli organization Ta’ayush. When soldiers, border police, and an Israeli civilian police officer arrived, the soldiers declared the area a closed military zone, despite the civilian police officer’s objections. The soldiers did not show the shepherds a map or military order. Three soldiers chased the flocks and shepherds towards the village of Tuba, then towards the settlement cattle barns. Shepherds from the village of Sadat Thala continued to graze sheep near the cattle barns. An armed settler arrived, pointed his gun at the shepherds, but left when he saw CPTers.
Friday 16 April
In the morning, a man from Ma’on settlement approached Palestinians grazing their sheep in Khoruba valley, near the village of At-Tuwani. The settler spoke with CPTers, seeking their personal information in order “to know who to sue.” He took photographs of Palestinians and CPTers on his mobile phone and later, as Palestinians began to take their sheep home, made several calls. Two army jeeps arrived and five soldiers walked towards the flock, following the shepherds and flock as far as At-Tuwani.
Saturday 17 April
Palestinians, joined by CPTers and Israeli activists from Ta’ayush, grazed their flocks in Umm Zeitun. When soldiers arrived, they began to chase the sheep and shepherds, pursuing two flocks most of the way to the village of Tuba. Palestinians noted that even though the sheep were moving very quickly, several soldiers kept running into the flock, scaring the sheep further.
Wednesday 21 April
As CPTers accompanied Palestinian harvesters and shepherds in the valleys and hillsides of Khoruba and Meshaha, an Israeli army jeep appeared in the area. Although the shepherds moved their flocks away, the soldiers approached one shepherd and told him he was forbidden to be in the area. The shepherd insisted it was Palestinian land and Palestinians had ploughed and planted there.
Interfering with Construction and Movement
Monday 5 April
Israeli soldiers told a Palestinian landowner he could not put up fencing along his land located in the village of At-Tuwani because, according to the soldiers, that land belonged to Ma’on settlement. The landowner reiterated to the soldiers that the land belonged to him. A major from Susiya military base arrived and forced Palestinians working on the fence to leave the area.
Thursday 8 April
Soldiers stopped a number of vehicles on their way to a ceremony in honor of the new school in Al Fakheit.
Sunday 11 April
Soldiers stopped students and teachers driving home from school in Al Fakheit. The soldiers checked the IDs of the adults before allowing them to continue.
Wednesday 14 April
While accompanying students and teachers as they drove to Al Fakheit School, a CPTer observed that soldiers had erected a large earth mound blocking the road near Al Fakheit village.