AT-TUWANI UPDATE: 24 January - 3 February 2006

18 February 2006

AT-TUWANI UPDATE: 24 January - 3 February 2006

Tuesday 24 January

Three European election observers visited At-Tuwani in the afternoon and
asked members of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPTers) and Operation Dove
(Doves) to be available in the village in case they observed any problems
during the voting on Wednesday.

In the afternoon, Israeli soldiers operated a checkpoint at the junction of
Route 317 and the Tuwani-Yatta road. They prevented Palestinian police
officers from crossing Route 317 and entering At-Tuwani. Eventually, the
soldiers allowed two of the police officers to cross on foot, while the car
that had brought them turned back. The police planned to spend the night in
the school in preparation for the next day's election.

Meanwhile, soldiers prevented most cars from crossing Route 317 and entering
At-Tuwani. One car the soldiers allowed to pass because, they said, "it was
carrying small children."

Wednesday 25 January Palestinian Election Day

The school in At-Tuwani served as a voting site for residents of the village
and the surrounding region. Throughout the day, CPTers and Doves maintained
a presence both at the school and at the junction of Route 317 and the
Tuwani-Yatta road, where the Israeli army again set up a temporary

Early in the morning, soldiers at the checkpoint initially prevented a few
cars coming from Yatta to drive on to At-Tuwani. When Art Gish arrived at
the checkpoint with a video camera, the soldiers allowed these cars to
cross. Throughout the rest of the day, soldiers stopped cars to check IDs,
but let the cars pass. However, CPTers and Doves at the checkpoint observed
at least three cars that turned back before approaching the checkpoint.

Saturday, 28 January

School in At-Tuwani began for the second half of the academic year. In the
morning, the army was an hour-and-a-half late to escort the children and did
not seem to know exactly where to go or what to do. After several calls,
the contact at the army base patched Matt Chandler through directly to a
soldier in the jeep so that Chandler could give the escort directions. In
the afternoon, the army escort arrived half an hour late.

Sunday, 29 January

While on school patrol, Diana Zimmerman, MacDonald and Chandler witnessed
heavy equipment continuing excavation of an area southeast of the settlement
outpost of Havot Ma'on. The CPTers also observed a settler from Havot Ma'on
working on a new structure, just outside the trees at the southern edge of
the outpost.

Monday, 30 January

Two Palestinians from At-Tuwani went to court in Beer Sheva to testify
regarding an incident from February 2005, when settlers from Havot Ma'on
beat and severely injured a member of Operation Dove. In the evening, the
team spoke with one of the Palestinians about the court case, and he said
that he does not know what the outcome will be.

Wednesday, 1 February

The police did not arrive to escort the children to school in the morning.
After calling seven times, Chandler and Zimmerman began walking toward Tuba
to accompany the children themselves. When the CPTers were halfway to Tuba,
an army hummer arrived and escorted the children.

Chandler and Zimmerman continued on to Tuba and visited a family there.

Equipment arrived for the medical clinic in At-Tuwani. The team heard a
report that a doctor and two nurses will be present every Wednesday to
operate the clinic.

Friday, 3 February 2006

Rabbis For Human Rights (RHR) planned an action to plant olive trees on the
land of a Palestinian farmer from Magayyer Al-Abeed a small village south of
At-Tuwani. Gish, MacDonald and a Dove joined the group.

By 8:30 a.m., a representative from the District Coordinating Office (DCO),
the military branch that deals with civil affairs in the Occupied
Territories, arrived on the scene, along with over twenty soldiers. A
representative of settler security from the settlement of Ma'on was also
present and interacting with the soldiers.

The military told the gathered activists, internationals and Palestinians
that they could not proceed to the field to plant trees because the area was
a closed military zone. A representative of RHR was shown a map, which he
later said was not of the area under discussion. When the Dove asked to see
orders or a map showing the closed zone, the soldiers refused.

At about 10:00 a.m., the soldiers demanded that everyone leave the area,
including At-Tuwani residents. Soldiers detained a volunteer from RHR, who
did not move away quickly enough, placed him in a military jeep, and drove
him to the road below the village, where they released him.