2nd October 2014 | International Solidarity Movement | Hebron, Occupied Palestine
“The child are having problems concentrating on their school work due to their emotional state and the stress due to the daily attacks by the occupation forces, which are continuously escalating.” Stated Hebron teacher, Shukri Zaroo, to the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).
Children in al-Khalil (Hebron) are forced to pass through a military checkpoint each morning and afternoon in order to reach and leave their schools. International activists try to monitor these military checkpoints, both to document the events and to stand with the children.
ISM activists monitor the Salaymeh checkpoint (29) each school day morning and afternoon. Since school began on August 24th, this is what the ISM activists have witnessed:
August 25th: Israeli forces fired 15 tear gas grenades and canisters, as well as five stun grenades at children as they waited to go to school. Tear gas drifted into the courtyard and many children and teachers choked and spluttered in the playground. School was delayed for over an hour. At one point a Red Crescent ambulance had to be called as two teachers and two children, aged 10 and 12-years-old, required medical treatment for excessive tear gas inhalation.
August 27th: At Salaymeh checkpoint Israeli forces fired six tear gas grenades in the morning.
August 31st: At the Salaymeh checkpoint, three tear gas canisters were fired at children on their way home from school. Similarly, children passing through the Qeitun checkpoint did not end their school day unharmed. A group of children threw stones towards the checkpoint from a rooftop. The soldiers fired a total of four tear gas canisters on the roof where the children were located.
September 2nd: Eight tear gas grenades were fired overall. Two young boys threw stones at the checkpoint. This was shortly followed by a short-range tear gas canister fired by one of the soldiers, which was aimed at the stone-throwing children but primarily affected those who needed to pass the cloud of tear gas in order to reach their homes.
As more tear gas canisters were fired, many of the smaller children became scared, crying and running in panic.
One tear gas canister landed in the path of three schoolchildren, no older than six-years-old, who were walking in the direction of the checkpoint, the ISM volunteers saw how one of the two girls was dragged away from the tear gas by the boy, however the other girl did not run away, seemingly too shocked and scared to move.
An ISM volunteer present said, “I ran into the cloud of gas to get the crying girl away and into safety. In a situation like that it is difficult to show a child, who is so terrified and wary of the world around her, that she can trust you. Especially as it becomes difficult to see and breath when surrounded by tear gas. Thankfully she took my hand and I led her to the other two children who she was walking with.”
September 8th: At Salaymeh checkpoint a seven-year-old child was forcefully detained and three more were arrested, including another child.
Israeli forces also threw two stun grenades and fired approximately three tear gas canisters towards the children standing outside their schools.
September 10th: In the afternoon at Salyemeh checkpoint, Israeli border police officers fired two tear gas grenades towards schoolchildren. ISM volunteers present witnessed the assault and did not see any stones thrown beforehand towards the military. Everyone in the street suffered from the tear gas, especially two girls approximately (six-years-old), who were standing outside their house. Other children and teachers took shelter in a nearby shop.
September 14th: Israeli forces fired one tear gas grenade in the afternoon.
September 15th: Israeli forces fired two tear gas grenades in the afternoon.
September 17th: Israel border police fired two tear gas canisters towards two to three stone throwing children who were aged between eight and 10-years-old. Schoolchildren and other pedestrians who happened to be walking past were caught up in the gas. Some took refuge in a local shop. Tear gas was also deployed when children were walking to school this morning. At no time were the Israeli forces under any threat.
September 18th: In the afternoon at Salaymeh checkpoint, Israeli forces fired three rounds of tear gas at schoolchildren. Israeli border police then prevented a horse & cart, several trucks and a car from passing through the checkpoint for 40 minutes, refusing to lift the barrier so that Palestinians could access the main road.
September 21st: Israeli forces fired one tear gas grenade in the afternoon.
September 23rd: At Salaymeh checkpoint, Israeli forces fired 29 rounds of tear gas and 5 stun grenades at children going to school.
Two ambulances were called to the scene due to the immense amounts of tear gas fired and a Palestinian teacher stated that 30 school children and 15 teachers suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation.
At Qeitun checkpoint clashes had erupted and were underway between unarmed Palestinian youths and Israeli forces. An excessive amount of tear gas was used in addition to rubber-coated steel bullets and stun grenades.
Israeli forces threw stun grenades and brutally grabbed and arrested two young Palestinian boys between the ages of 14 and 15-years-old. One of the boys whilst in a headlock and handcuffed was punched several times in the side.
September 22nd: Israeli forces fired three tear gas grenades in the morning at Salaymeh checkpoint.
September 24th: Two tear gas canisters were shot at the children, one of which was fired directly at them instead of an arc (to lower the impact velocity). This practice is extremely dangerous and can cause severe injuries or death.September 25th: One tear gas grenade was thrown and four tear gas canisters were shot, one after another, at high speeds towards the children leaving school at Salaymeh checkpoint..
September 28th: At the Salaymeh checkpoint in the morning, Israeli forces fired three tear gas grenades and one stun grenade at schoolchildren.
In the afternoon, Israeli border police entered through Salaymeh checkpoint and fired 14 tear gas grenades and one stun grenade at children leaving school. Several teenagers threw stones towards the checkpoint and the soldiers began firing tear gas.
An ISM activist present stated, “Four young girls were walking past the boys throwing stones. The boys deliberately stopped throwing stones so the girls could pass safely, but the border police fired tear gas anyway.”
At one point two border police grabbed a 12-year-old boy by the arm, dragged him to the checkpoint, and detained him for 20 minutes.
October 1st: At the Salaymeh checkpoint, Israeli border police fired excessive amounts of tear gas at schoolchildren. ISM activists present counted at least 24 grenades fired.