Israeli
authorities are stepping up aggression in the South Hebron Hills, particularly
in response to Palestinian migrant laborers.

On the morning of 2 February,
Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian man on the Israeli side of the border
near the Palestinian village
of Jinba and the Israeli
settlement of Beit Yatir.  Taysir
Manasra, from the Hebron-area village
of Bani Na’im, was
attempting to travel into Israel
for work.  CPTers, along with other human
rights workers, arrived to find a bullet-riddled car, a pool of blood, and
soldiers and police detaining about ten Palestinian men.  Manasra’s corpse had just been removed from
the scene. 

Other Palestinians told the
internationals that they had already been detained when Manasra drove his car
through an army ambush.  The soldiers had
ordered them to lie face down before they shot at Manasra’s car and killed
him. 

The same morning, Israeli soldiers
set up a checkpoint on the Palestinian road from at-Tuwani to al-Birkeh.  They stopped two Palestinian vehicles,
removing and physically assaulting the drivers. 

One of the drivers delivers goods to
at-Tuwani.  Although he showed valid
documents, both for his van and the road he was using, the soldiers removed and
confiscated his license plates.  The man
told CPTers indignantly, “I am an older man, and I showed them my papers, but
they still shoved me and hit me!”

The other driver transports
Palestinian school children daily between at-Tuwani and the village of Susiya
(three km southwest).  He also showed the
soldiers valid papers.  One of the
soldiers grabbed him and struck him repeatedly on the face and upper body
before letting him go. 

The following day, Israeli soldiers
arrested a Palestinian at his home in Mufagara, one km southwest of
at-Tuwani.  They claimed that the van
parked outside his home was not correctly registered.  He showed the soldiers his documents, which
they confiscated.  The man, a well-known
local peace activist, calmly agreed to go with the soldiers in order to settle
the dispute.  The soldiers handcuffed
him, placed a black hood over his head, and drove him away in an army humvee.

Since Israel sealed the West
Bank behind a separation barrier and subsequently destroyed its
economy (unemployment is currently around 20%), growing numbers of Palestinian
men travel to Israel
for work.  Under Israeli law it is
illegal for Palestinians to cross the 1949 Green Line (the internationally
recognized border between Israel
and the Occupied Palestinian Territories)
without a permit, which is extremely difficult to obtain.

Along part of the West
Bank’s border near the Israeli town of Be’er Sheva, the barrier is not yet
completed.  At-Tuwani, five km north of
the border, lies directly on the primary route traveled by Palestinian workers.

Continuing CPT’s work in at-Tuwani this year will cost U.S.$112,000.

CPT video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VrVf9cLyWm0;
see a map of the area, courtesy of B’Tselem, at
https://tinyurl.com/bt629r.