11 April 2009
Of utmost concern for CPT and Operation Dove is the safe travel of Palestinian school children who walk from the nearby villages of Tuba and Magaher-al-Abeed to At-Tuwani’s elementary school. These school children face a treacherous daily walk past the illegal Israeli settlement of Ma’on and the illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on. For years, armed adult settlers have attacked, threatened and harassed the children along the path from Tuba to Tuwani. In 2004 the Knesset recommended that the Israeli military provide the children with an armed escort. However, since settlers constructed a gate across the road one year ago, the escort soldiers have refused to walk with the children far enough to ensure their safety.
In the past two weeks internationals working with Operation Dove and Christian Peacemaker Teams have twice witnessed settlers grazing sheep directly in the path of the children at the time they walk home from school. Because the children have been physically attacked in the past, and threatened with death by settlers earlier this school year, they are terrified by the presence of these settlers. Since an incident on March 24 in which settlers were present at the end of the children’s walk home, internationals and the children have repeatedly asked the soldiers to walk with the children until they are out of danger. On April 1 settlers again came onto the land between the outpost of Havat Ma’on and the village of Tuba while the children were walking. Members of CPT and Operation Dove were present and the children ran towards them crying and very frightened.
Internationals now request that concerned people make calls to the Communications office of the Southern District Commander of the Israeli Military. It is an Israeli phone number, (country code 972) 2 996 7200. Please ask Commander BenMoha to instruct the soldiers who perform the escort of the Tuba and Magaher-al-Abeed school children to accompany the children all the way past the Ma’on chicken barns and past any settlers present. Please stress that this is particularly necessary because of the repeated presence of settlers in this area at the time of the children’s walk home, and remind the commander that settlers used violence against the school children on fourteen occasions in the 07-08 school year and on two occasions during the current school year.
For a complete report on the school escort, including maps, photographs and interviews with the children, please see “A Dangerous Journey.”
In addition to phone calls, Operation Dove and CPT ask that people send the IDF Public Appeals office a simple message.
Sample message: (no more than 75 words)
Subject: Request to Commander BenMoha
Palestinian school children from Tuba and Magaher-al-abeed must walk past militant settlers from Ma’on and Havat Ma’on to attend school in At-Tuwani. The Knesset recommended in 2004 that the IDF escort these children. Currently soldiers refuse to escort the children far enough to ensure their safety. In order to do so they must accompany the children all the way past the Ma’on chicken barns and past any settlers present.
IDF Public Appeals Fax: 011-972-3-569-9400.
IDF Public Appeals Phone: 011-972-3-569-1000.