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Palestinian children forced to go the long way home

by ISM Hebron, November 21st

At 11:50am: several HRWs (human rights workers) left the apartment to begin monitoring the return of Palestinian school children. The children left school with no problems. The HRWs stayed on Al Shuhada St. and monitored the area for an extended period of time in case children wanted to
play. At approx. 1pm a group of soldiers stopped in their jeep pretending they had a prisoner in the back that was screaming, the driver attempted to create friendly banter and drove away after a few minutes.

At 1:30pm on Tel Rumeida St. a settler woman came down and began to throw rocks at the children, hit two HRWs with her coat and was restrained by a male settler and soldier while a HRW escorted the remaining children away up the street.

Also this afternoon, a group of four schoolchildren encountered settler hostility while attempting to walk home by way of a path close to the Tel Rumeida settlement; the use of this path has been disputed by Tel Rumeida settlers, who often impose their will by violence against children
attempting to use this pathway. The Israeli High Court has issued an order affirming the right of the Palestinian children to use this pathway, and some do in order to avoid long walks up and down steep hills.

Around 1pm, right before the children entered the pathway, a Tel Rumeida settler, a transfer from Gaza, pulled her car between the children and the pathway, then got out of her car, stood between her white hatchback and the pathway entrance, and began yelling at the children. As the settler woman got out of her car to block the path entrance, another settler woman approached. The soldiers prohibited the children from entering and also spoke with the woman. A captain arrived and would not discuss the matter. HRWs on the scene called Machsom Watch to further assist the children getting home the quickest way. However, the children were encouraged to take the alternative, much longer route home.

At 2pm the same woman was seen in a car accelerating towards the children as they walked uphill on Tel Rumeida street. As she swerved dangerously close to them, HRWs expressed their alarm which resulted in her steering the vehicle away.