[Note: According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Hague
Regulations, the International Court of Justice, and several United Nations
resolutions, all Israeli settlements and outposts in the Occupied Palestinian
Territories are illegal. Most
settlement outposts, including Havat Ma’on (Hill 833), are considered illegal
also under Israeli law.]
Hebron Hills, West Bank—On the afternoon of 7 February 2011, three Israeli
settlers from the Havat Ma’on outpost chased a group of twelve Palestinian
schoolchildren who were walking home from school. The Israeli military had failed to arrive to escort the
schoolchildren, forcing the children to take a longer path without the army’s
Shortly after the schoolchildren and Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT)
volunteers set out on the path towards Tuba and Maghayir al-Abeed villages,
Israeli settlers, two of whom were masked, emerged from the grouping of trees that encompass
Havat Ma’on and began moving towards the children. Upon seeing the
settlers, the children turned and sprinted to distance themselves from the
settlers. Several children cried and screamed as they ran away from the
settlers; one young girl began shaking uncontrollably as soon as she stopped
running from the settlers.
The Israeli Border Police, who were located on an adjacent hill for the
duration of the incident, arrived at the scene after the Palestinian children
had safely distanced themselves from the settlers. The Border Police
stopped and spoke with the settlers, two of whom remained masked during the
The Border Police then approached the edge of At-Tuwani village where the
children, CPT volunteers, and Palestinian adults had gathered. Border Police officers spoke with a CPT
volunteer and an At-Tuwani resident, seeking to understand what had happened. After hearing their accounts but
refusing to hear the role the settlers had played, the officers suggested that
the Palestinian children, internationals, and At-Tuwani villagers were the ones
causing problems, rather than the settlers.
Before the children had set out on the longer path without the military escort,
CPT volunteers had called the Israeli military four times inquiring as to the
whereabouts of the escort. During
CPT’s final call to the military—more than thirty minutes after their initial
call—the military dispatch office said that they had not yet called the
soldiers who were to provide the escort, because they had more important duties
The Border Police officers eventually escorted the children
home, but all of them remained in their jeep, laughing, as the children walked
behind the jeep, visibly shaken.
Video of masked settlers giving direction to Israeli Border Police is available here.
Pictures of masked settlers giving directions to Israeli Border Police are available here.
Operation Dove and Christian Peacemaker Teams have maintained an international
presence in At-Tuwani and South Hebron Hills since 2004.