Rural Land Theft and Thuggery

Wed 3 Mar: By minibus to Tuwani, south of Hebron, with a Scottish friend who has spent most of her life in this village since 2004. She lives with other members of a Christian Peacemaker Team in a two-roomed cabin built for them by the villagers. Cooking and hygiene are not easy in these cramped quarters. There was room for me in a building occupied by Italians who are members of Operation Dove. Like CPT, this is a peace and justice group working to calm conflict situations in different countries.

On entering the village, one sees that electricity pylons have been removed. This was done by the Israeli army. When Tony Blair was here a year ago he pressed for the power to be restored but his request was ignored. The villagers are also denied running water, and draw water from a well.

Thu 4 Mar 6.30 am: Walked up a hill above Tuwani with CPTers checking that children coming to school from a neighbouring village were not being harassed. In most directions there is a glorious view of the South Hebron Hills with boulders and outcropping shelves of limestone. However, on one side the houses of an Israeli settlement dominate the village, and this is where the threat to the children comes from. The settlement, Ma’on, like all the  200 or so settlements on Occupied Palestinian Territory in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, is illegal under international law. But the settlement is spreading, with prefab outpost buildings constructed nearer the village. These are illegal under both international law and Israeli law, but the settlers continue their encroachment onto village land undeterred.

At 9 am, a shepherd came to the Dove house saying: “Mushkele” (“there’s a problem”). A young man studying at Hebron university and his mother were grazing their sheep on land below the settlement. Soldiers arrived in a jeep and ordered the shepherds to move their sheep and goats off the land, though it has been communal grazing from long before the founding of Israel. Rather than risk the soldiers taking their animals, they moved them nearer Tuwani. Thus settlements take Palestinian land, and shepherds are prevented from using land not yet seized.

Children going home from school past settlement where they are liable to be attacked  

In the afternoon we waited near the settlement for the children to come up from Tuwani on their way home. Following three violent attacks on CPT and Dove internationals in 2005 by masked settlers armed with chains and baseball bats, the Israeli army has undertaken to accompany the children past the settlement. Soldiers are supposed to walk with the children. After the children had been kept waiting for an hour, a jeep came and drove behind the children part of the way past the settlement. The children have been attacked many times by the settlers and on one occasion a women drove a car through the children, scattering them. Fancy children having to run a gauntlet going to and from elementary school. What is the mentality of adults who repeatedly threaten and attack young children?

In 2005, settlers spread poisoned grain in the grazing areas used by residents of Tuwani, killing many sheep and goats and also wild gazelles. The poison was found to be fluoroacetamide which is so toxic that it is illegal in many countries. Loss of their animals, and inability to use or to sell them or the milk they produce for some years, was a crippling  blow to villagers who the World Bank had already found to be amongst the poorest in the West Bank.

Why the settler violence – supported by the Israeli military -- against villagers, their children and their flocks? Why the displacement of farmers from their land, and the inexorable encroachment of settlements onto it? This is Zionism, whose aim is to ethnically cleanse the country of Moslems and Christians and turn it into a land only for Jews. This blatant racism must no longer be condoned and supported by the US, the UK, or any other country.

Cave home in Palestinian village abandoned because of harassment by Israelis living in the illegal

settlement above Tuwani. There have been cave dwellers in the area since at least the 1830s.

(Photo courtesy CPT)

Zionism in practice - Israel’s Daily Toll on Palestinian Life, Limb, Liberty and Property
24 hours to 8am 3 March 2010
4 attacks – 29 raids including home invasions – 1 beaten – 3 injured – 29 taken prisoner – 17 detained – 79 restrictions of movement

Khan Yunis: Israeli tanks and bulldozers invade farms – destroy crops

Israeli Army destroys olive trees for annexation Wall

Israeli troops shoot their way into houses – 2 wounded

Home invasions: woman and baby ejected from their home

Israeli F-16s terrorize Gaza City

Night peace disruption and/or home invasions in 15 towns and villages
[Source of statistics: Palestine Human Rights Campaign – www.palestine.org.nz]

   

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