AT-TUWANI UPDATE: 18 - 28 February 2006

16 March 2006

AT-TUWANI UPDATE: 18 - 28 February 2006

Saturday, 18 February

Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) members Sally Hunsberger and Art Gish
accompanied men from At Tuwani to the nearby Palestinian village of Suseya.
There they joined about 100 members of Ta'ayush, an Israeli peace activist
group, in planting olive trees on Palestinian land not far from the Israeli
settlement of Sussiyah. The Israeli army and police arrived and did not try
to stop the action but did require the tree planters to keep moving to new
places in the field every few minutes. Eventually, a representative from
the Israeli military's District Coordinating Office (DCO) came and made the
planters leave the land. Several planters walked back to the village of
Suseya, where they sat and watched Israeli settlers uproot the newly planted
trees. The military did nothing to stop the settlers.

Sunday, 19 February

All day the team collected data about usage of the Palestinian road from
At-Tuwani to Karmil, as part of ongoing efforts to prevent the building of a
proposed "security wall" along the Israeli bypass Route 317. In the
morning, CPTer Diana Zimmerman learned that the court denied the request for
an appeal against the wall, and authorized the building to begin on
Thursday, 23 February. The lawyer who submitted that appeal planned to use
the collected traffic data to file an injunction to stop construction of the

At 1:50 p.m., an Israeli army jeep and front-end loader arrived to close the
At-Tuwani/Karmil road at the point where it intersects Route 317. When
Zimmerman asked why they were closing the road, the army captain initially
refused to respond. After a moment, he said they would leave open one of
the three paths that run up the embankment to Route 317, and he asked
Zimmerman which one was best. Zimmerman pointed to the path easiest for
most vehicles to navigate. The captain then instructed the front-end loader
operator to close that path first. The military blocked two paths with dirt
and boulders; the one path left open was steep and very difficult for cars
and low trucks to drive up.

In the evening, the team received a request from Suseya for an international
presence that night. Three Palestinians from Suseya believed the Israeli
police were looking for them because settlers had filed a report against
them. CPTer Matt Chandler and a member of Operation Dove (Dove) spent the
night in Suseya. No problems occurred.

Monday, 20 February

Chandler and six Palestinians from the At-Tuwani area spent the day in the
Palestinian city of Bil'in, attending a conference on nonviolence. The
Palestinians from the At-Tuwani area gained some new ideas and made several
connections with other Palestinians using nonviolent strategies to resist
the Israeli occupation.

At 9:30 a.m., CPTers Zimmerman and Sarah MacDonald, along with one Dove,
received a report that settlers were present in the nearby village of
Mufakara. The three went to investigate. On the way they encountered an
Israeli army foot patrol of five soldiers who said they had seen nothing.

Upon arriving in Mufakara, the internationals talked with members of a
Palestinian family who said four settlers had come over the hill from the
direction of the Israeli settlement of Avigail and toward the family's
house. By the time the internationals arrived, no settlers were in the
area. The three visited with the family for an hour, and no settlers
appeared during that time.

Wednesday, 22 February

In the morning, the Israeli police were forty minutes late to escort the
children from Tuba to school in Tuwani. While the children waited near the
Israeli settlement of Ma'on for the escort to arrive, a settler drove up in
his car, got out and started yelling at the children. Chandler and
MacDonald, who were watching the scene from a hill a couple kilometers to
the south, started to walk toward the children. They also called the
police, who said, "Don't interfere with the settlers." When the CPTers
reached the next hill, an army jeep arrived and escorted the children.

Thursday, 23 February

Chandler, Zimmerman and one Dove spent an hour by Route 317, monitoring an
army checkpoint. While there, the internationals observed stakes and spray
paint markings for construction of the "security wall" along the road.

In the afternoon, Chandler and MacDonald encountered Palestinian shepherds
bringing their flocks back to At-Tuwani. The shepherds said they had been
in a valley south of At-Tuwani and several settlers from the Israeli outpost
of Havot Ma'on (Hill 833) had approached. The army arrived and required
both the settlers and the shepherds to leave the valley. The Palestinians
reported that the Ma'on security guard had also been present. They said
they planned to graze their sheep every morning and requested that
internationals accompany them regularly.

Saturday, 25 February

In the afternoon, as the school children waited for the army escort to
accompany them to Tuba, four youth from the Israeli settlement of Ma'on
appeared on the hillside opposite the Palestinians. Both groups of children
began to shout and throw stones. Zimmerman, who was waiting with the
children from Tuba, called the Israeli police and army. The army arrived
within ten minutes, and the settler boys withdrew to Ma'on. The police, who
said they were coming, never arrived.

Monday, 27 February

Chandler and MacDonald accompanied shepherds to Khoruba. At 12:45 p.m., an
Israeli police officer arrived to look at the olive trees that had been
broken and uprooted two weeks previously. The officer asked the
Palestinians what had happened and took pictures of the damages. While they
were there, a settler walked past from the direction of the Avigail outpost
to Havot Ma'on (Hill 833). Later one of the Palestinians present said he
suspects this settler of damaging the olive trees. The day before the
destruction, the Palestinian had seen the settler wandering through the
grove in the early morning and examining the new trees.

Tuesday, 28 February

At 10:00 a.m., shepherds from At-Tuwani called Chandler, MacDonald and two
Doves to accompany them to a valley south of At-Tuwani. When the
internationals arrived fifteen minutes later, they found a group of soldiers
talking to a settler on the outskirts of Havot Ma'on (Hill 833.) A
Palestinian told the internationals that when the settler had approached the
shepherds, the a