AT-TUWANI: Israeli soldiers stop villagers from plowing, assault internationals

30 November 2005

AT-TUWANI: Israeli soldiers stop villagers from plowing, assault

On Monday, 28 November 2005 Palestinians from At-Tuwani plowed and planted
land in Khoruba valley. Before beginning work, Palestinians arranged for an
officer from the Israeli military District Coordinating Office (DCO) to be
present on the land--which lies close to the Israeli settlement outpost of
Havot Ma'on (Hill 833)--during plowing.

The DCO officer failed to show up at the appointed time and did not answer
phone calls from Palestinians inquiring about his presence. After waiting
an hour and a half, the Palestinians began working without the presence of
the military. Diane Janzen, Kristin Anderson, and Amy Knickrehm from CPT
arrived with Operation Dove members to accompany the villagers.

Ten minutes after Palestinians began plowing and planting, settler security
from Ma'on, along with three settler men, arrived and observed from the hill
above. Israeli soldiers arrived forty-five minutes later. After speaking
with the settlers, the soldiers ordered Palestinians to cease work until the
DCO arrived. The Palestinians agreed to wait.

Fifteen minutes later, four Israeli soldiers arrived in a silver truck and
walked down to where the Palestinians were waiting. CPTers and Doves
remained with the Palestinians, documenting the soldiers' orders with
photographs and videotape. Immediately, soldiers demanded that the
Palestinians move up the hill, further away from the settlement. As CPTers
and Doves photographed the incident, soldiers began to shove, grab, and
chase the internationals who were holding cameras. Soldiers confiscated two
digital cameras and one video camera, and detained one member of Operation

Shortly afterwards, members of the Israeli peace groups Ta'ayush and Rabbis
for Human Rights arrived to document the situation, and act as advocates for
the Palestinians attempting to work their land. One hour later, after the
Israeli advocates negotiated with the soldiers, soldiers released the Dove
and returned the cameras.

Following the incident, Israeli police arrived on scene to investigate,
speaking with the settlers and taking a statement from Ma'on settler
security. When the internationals requested that police take their
statements regarding the soldiers assaulting them, a policeman told them,
"If you file complaints against the soldiers they will file complaints
against you, charging you with holding onto soldiers' weapons, and you will
be arrested."

An Israeli military commander for the At-Tuwani area arrived, saying
although "the civil administration doesn't have any decision on the
[ownership of] the land," the military was declaring it a closed military
zone, effectively preventing Palestinian access to the land. The commander
also told the internationals that the soldiers had behaved inappropriately.
"You have a right to take photos as you like," he told them.

At 4:30 p.m. the Palestinians, Israeli peace activists and internationals
left the area. Several military personnel remained in the area for the
closed military zone order to arrive. Palestinians from At Tuwani told
internationals that they would continue to work their land, aided by their
Israeli lawyer, who has documents proving both Palestinian ownership and the
illegality of military interfering with Palestinian access to their fields.

Photos of the incident are available at: