More than 100 Palestinian children marched 27 July from at-Tuwani to the village of Tuba along a path where Israeli settlers have attacked them and the international human rights advocates who accompany them. They carried banners and Palestinian flags as they drummed and chanted, “This land is Palestinian land; the settlers have to leave.”
The march, part of a two-week summer camp for the children, asserted the right of Palestinians to travel on roads through their own land. It also demonstrated solidarity with the 20 children from Tuba and Maghayir al-Abeed who face violence every day as they travel through the valley between the Israeli settlement of Ma’on and the illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on/Hill 833 to attend primary school in at-Tuwani.
The marchers walked without incident, although Israeli soldiers and the Ma’on settlement security guard followed the procession, as well as two cars driven by settlers, who yelled at the group.
This was the third nonviolent march that the children have undertaken from at-Tuwani to Tuba. Joining them were women who had organized the summer camp, several fathers, members of the Italian peace group Operation Dove, CPTers, and fourteen CPT delegates.
Because of frequent settler attacks, the Israeli military is required to escort the school children safely through the area.
International accompaniers from CPT and Operation Dove monitor the escort. Their report of data collected during the 2008-2009 school year highlights infringements on the children’s rights to safety and education. For example:
- Settlers used violence against the children 10 times.
- Children missed 18 hours of class due to escort tardiness.
- Soldiers did not walk with the children in 32% of the escorts.
- Children waited for the escort home a total of 48 hours.
- Internationals made 192 phone calls to the military because of escort problems.
- The military completed the escort only seven times out of 245 escorts. Almost always, the military left early, leaving the children to walk through risky areas on their own.