11th November 2013 | Operation Dove | At Tuwani, Occupied Palestine
The Israeli outpost of Havat Ma’on (Hill 833) in the West Bank’s South Hebron Hills is growing at a phenomenal rate since the beginning of October. On Saturday November 9, the activist group of Ta’ayush (an Arab and Jewish grassroots nonviolent movement) and international peace activists entered the outpost in order to document the illegal works taking place and to ask the Israeli authorities to stop the expansion.
The activist group videotaped a large construction site, but settlers and the Israeli police and army prevented them from fully documenting the expansion of Havat Ma’on. Furthermore two masked settlers attacked the activists, throwing stones at them. In spite of the presence of the Israeli police, there were no consequences for the attackers.
Later, two settlers from Havat Ma’on came toward the nearby Palestinian village of At Tuwani. One settler approacheda Palestinian home and provoked the residents. A group of Palestinians from the village gathered near the house and the settler was distanced by the police.
The inhabitants of the nearby Palestinian village of At Tuwani and international observers have documented the expansion of Havat Ma’on since October 6, when they photographed a scraper while it was entering the outpost; they also later heard noises from the construction works. Several days later, internationals documented an excavator digging the land. Documentation of the entire construction process was not possible, however, because of the presence of woods that obstruct the view.
Despite receiving several notices of this expansion, when an Israeli activist informed the Israeli official responsible for the infrastructure of Hebron and the South Hebron area from the District Coordination Office (DCO), the official declared that DCO officers inspected the area and did not see any construction work.
From Havat Ma’on outpost come a lot of violence and threats against the local Palestinian communities. Just in the lands surrounding the outpost, Operation Dove volunteers have recorded a total of 43 incidents since the beginning of the 2013 in which local settlers are involved: 13 cases of Palestinian property damages (primarily olive trees); 13 violent attacks and 17 harassments and threats against Palestinians, Israelis and internationals.
While the Palestinian and Bedouin villages of Area C, including the South Hebron Hills, suffer from Israel’s ongoing policy of demolitions and threats, the nearby outposts and settlements continue to expand.
“Most of Area C has been allocated for the benefit of Israeli settlements, which receive preferential treatment at the expense of Palestinian communities, including with regard to access to land and resources, planning, construction, development of infrastructure, and law enforcement” declared the United Nations OCHA oPt (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in occupied Palestinian territories) in the report regarding the Area C, issued on January 2013.
Operation Dove has maintained an international presence in At-Tuwani and the South Hebron Hills since 2004.