Israeli soldiers refuse to continue daily escort
22 February 2010
AT-TUWANI – On Monday morning, 22 February 2010, four Israeli settlers chased Palestinian school children who were walking home after school in At-Tuwani village. For one hour they awaited the Israeli military escort assigned to ensure their safe passage to their home villages of Tuba and Maghaer Al-Abeed. Because the Israeli military failed to arrive, the children were forced to take a circuitous path home taking over an hour. They finally arrived in Tuba and Mughaer Al-Abeed three hours after the end of the school day.
After the Israeli military refused to respond to members of Christian Peacemaker Teams’ repeated phone calls for over half an hour, Israeli settlers approached on a farm tractor. Two men, one masked, drove down to the children’s regular waiting point on the dirt road that bisects the Ma’on settlement and the Havat Ma’on settlement outpost. Using the tractor, they tried to form a barricade by pushing boulders onto the road surface.
Normally, the road is in daily use by the children and their escort, because it connects their home villages with At-Tuwani and Palestinian cities to the north. However, three times in the previous three school days, the Israeli soldiers had failed to perform their assigned escort.
The two settlers returned to their outpost. After waiting for an hour for the military to arrive, the children decided to return home by a longer path around the settlements. As they walked, four settlers came out from Havat Ma’on and chased them. As the children ran from the settlers, Israeli military jeeps appeared ahead of them, but stopped while soldiers spoke with the four settlers.
Soldiers detained the children for approximately one hour and refused to provide safe passage around the settlement. The children detoured yet again, taking a circuitous path home through dangerously rugged terrain. They finally arrived in Tuba and Mughaer Al-Abeed three hours after school.
The school children of these villages require the military escort because of Israeli settlers’ repeated attacks and harassment, year after year. Whenever the soldiers fail to meet them promptly before and after school, the children wait in dangerous areas under “de facto” settler control.
For a thorough report on the school escort in 2007 and 2008, including maps, photos and interviews with the children, please see “A Dangerous Journey” (.pdf).
For more information contact:
Christian Peacemaker Teams: 054 253 1323
Operation Dove: 054 992 5773