By Mary Baxter
The heroes of Tel Rumeida are twelve children, who need to pass by or through the Tel Rumeida Israeli settlement to get to school. They are from about 5 to 14 years old. They are frightened of the settlers who threaten and at times attack them. But still they come six days a week. Israeli settler children travel by bus past Palestinian houses but Palestinian children must walk, often by themselves.
The settlers want their houses in order to expand their settlement but the Palestinians will not sell. Hence the threats! One family was driven out of their home but won a court case and are now back in the house. The court order said there should be police in front of their house when they return from school. This seldom occurs. Other families were shut in their houses for three years. Settler caravans have been placed on their street and they were not allowed use the street to come and go. In July 2005, they won a court order to have a rough track parallel to the street, on their own land. There was an incident in December 2005 when one of the families tried to have goods delivered to the track and settlers objected. Following that Israeli soldiers placed razor wire across the entrance and along one side of the track. The family again have access to the track but the wire is still there. Everyday children must open razor wire and walk along a track, where they are between settlers on one side and razor wire on the other.
These children are often yelled at or detained by young Israeli soldiers. The soldiers, who are mostly reasonable young men are “carrying out orders” and do not understand the situation. They see the settlers at their best. Although the Palestinian children are often very frightened, they keep the passage to their houses open. They are the bravest people I know.