CPTnet6 March 2010AT-TUWANI: Israeli settlers intimidate Palestinian school children after Israeli military neglects escort
AT-TUWANI, South Hebron Hills, West Bank—On Monday morning, 22 February 2010, three Israeli settlers chased sixteen Palestinian children who were walking home after school. The children had waited an hour for their Israeli military escort, which the Israeli Knesset Committee on the Rights of the Child assigned to the children in order to ensure their safe passage to their home villages of Tuba and Maghaer Al-Abeed. Because of the military's negligence, the children were forced to take an alternative path that finally returned them home three hours after the end of school. On the previous three school days, the soldiers also had failed to perform the escort three times.
After the Israeli military refused to respond to Christian Peacemaker Teams' repeated calls for the first half hour, Israeli settlers approached on a farm tractor. Two men, one masked, drove down to the children's regular waiting point on the dirt road that bisects the Ma'on settlement and the Havat Ma'on settlement outpost. Using the tractor, they tried to form a barricade by pushing boulders onto the road surface. Normally, the road is in daily use by the children and their escort, because it connects their home villages with At-Tuwani and Palestinian cities to the north.
The two settlers returned to their outpost. The children decided to return home by a longer path around the settlements. While they were on the path, three settlers came out from Havat Ma'on and chased them. As the children ran from the settlers, Israeli military jeeps appeared ahead of them, but stopped while soldiers spoke with the three settlers. Meanwhile, soldiers detained the children, refusing to provide them safe passage around the settlement. One soldier told CPTers, "We have things more important to do." The children had to wait until the soldiers left, before they could proceed on their alternative path through dangerously rugged terrain.
The children of these villages require the military escort because of Israeli settlers' repeated attacks and harassment, year after year. Whenever the soldiers fail to meet them promptly before and after school, the children wait in dangerous areas under "de facto" settler control.
For the month of February, this encounter was the fourth recorded incident of settler violence against the children.
For photos of the incident, see: <http://cpt.org/gallery/album308>
For a thorough report on the school escort in 2007 and 2008, including maps, photos and interviews with the children, please see "A Dangerous Journey": at