At-Tuwani: Resisting Walls

 

Israeli police arrested three Israeli peace activists and two Palestinians during a nonviolent protest against the planned security wall near at-Tuwani along Bypass Road 317 on April 22. Palestinians from at-Tuwani and neighboring villages organized the demonstration to protest the construction of the wall - an 80-centimeter high, 14-kilometer long concrete barrier on the north side of the road running from the settlement of Tene to the settlement of Carmel - and invited the support of Israelis and internationals.

At 10:30am Israeli soldiers arrived and declared the area a "closed military zone." However the area of the zone was unclear on the map they showed to a member of Ta'ayush, an Israeli peace group.

The demonstrators were careful not to block traffic on the bypass road, always moving to the sides when asked by police. At noon the soldiers and police ordered the demonstrators to disperse. Most participants refused to leave so police began dragging them away. First, they arrested Israeli demonstrators, and then they assaulted several village residents.

Soldiers and police pushed members of Ta'ayush and CPTers Maureen Jack and Diane Janzen to the ground as they tried to prevent the arrest of one Palestinian man, Husam.* Police arrested Husam's brother Khaled* who also intervened, kicked another brother in the face after shoving him to the ground, and pushed their 75-year-old mother to the ground several times, kicking her hard in the stomach.

The officers claimed that Husam was hitting soldiers and police with a stick, but Jack and Janzen stayed near him and saw that at no time did he have a stick or hit anyone. Video footage confirms that Husam behaved nonviolently throughout the demonstration.

Police released the three Israelis later in the day, but held Husam and Khaled for four days and charged them with assaulting police officers.

Opponents of the proposed wall have mounted a legal challenge to its construction. Although the Israeli High Court has not yet ruled in the case, members of CPT and the Italian peace group, Operation Dove, have witnessed workers surveying and preparing to build.

The wall would prevent access for Palestinians south of Route 317 to larger population centers in the north, depress the local economy and accelerate the erosion of basic human rights for the people in the area. CPT's report on the impact of the proposed wall can be found at: http://www.cpt.org/hebron/hebron.php.

*Not their real names