AT-TUWANI: Military escort misconduct exposes Palestinian children to risk on their way to and from school

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CPTnet
9 April 2014
AT-TUWANI: Military escort misconduct
exposes Palestinian children to risk on their way to and from school

[Note:
The following report comes from CPT’s colleagues in the South Hebron Hills,
Operation Dove.  The original is
available here.
]

 
  Photo of March 2010 school escort. Soldiers in
jeep.

On
9 April 2014, settlers from the Havat Ma’on outpost attacked children from the
Palestinian villages of Tuba and Maghayir Al Abeed.  The children were walking to school, accompanied by the
Israeli military escort that has the duty to protect them every day on their way
to and from school, as established in 2004 by the Israeli Knesset Committee on
the Rights of the Child. During
the 2013-2014 school year, the misconduct of this military escort has exposed
the children to danger on numerous occasions.

In
order to reach the school in the village of at-Tuwani, the Palestinian children
from Tuba and Maghayir Al Abeed, who are between the ages of
six and seventeen, usually walk through the shortest route that passes between
the Israeli settlement of Ma’on and the outpost of Havat Ma’on (Hill 833).  This route is the main road linking
their villages and At Tuwani and takes about twenty minutes to complete.

On
the morning of 9 April at 7:40 a.m., two Israeli children coming from Havat
Ma’on attacked the Palestinian children by launching stones at them with
slingshots, injuring a twelve-year-old girl and fourteen-year-old girl on their
legs.  At the moment of the attack,
the Israeli soldiers were not walking with the children as they are supposed
to, but were inside the military vehicle, following behind the group of
children.

Every day
international volunteers monitor the IDF escort for an average number of sixteen
children.  August 25 marked the
beginning of the school year 2013-2014.  Of the 132 days of school, the escort was not present for
five mornings and six afternoons, forcing the children to walk a longer and
still dangerous path that takes them about one hour to reach school.  During the current school year,
international volunteers registered that in 30% of the cases the military
escort was late (27% during the previous school year 2012-2013), causing
children to lose about eight hours of lessons (seventeen in 2012-2013).

Additionally
50% of the time (52% in 2012-2013) the military escort arrived late after
school, forcing the children to wait in a dangerous place, close to both the settlement
and the outpost, for a total time of about twelve hours (nineteen in
2012-2013).  In contravention of
the escort’s protective mandate, in 96% of the cases (i.e. 127 out of 132
recorded cases in which the escort was present) the Israeli military failed
fully to complete the escort and the soldiers did not accompany the children to
the end of the established path (78% in 2012-2013).  Furthermore, thus far in the 2013-2014 school year, 82% of
the time (37% in 2012-2013), the escort did not walk with the children, as
established in the agreement between the Israel Civil Administration’s District
Coordination Office (DCO) and the mayor of At Tuwani.

Further
information on the military escort in the past years is available in the
report “The Dangerous Road to Education.  Palestinian Students Suffer Under Settler Violence and
Military Negligence.

Operation
Dove has maintained an international presence in At Tuwani and the South Hebron
Hills since 2004.

[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.]

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