Thursday, July 24, 2008

Israeli Settlers Pursue Palestinian School Children

Palestinian Children encounter many obstacles to their education: harrassment and violence from settlers, impediments, such as roadblocks and checkpoints and in some cases, damage or closure of their schools. Accompanying children to school has been one of Christian Peacemaker Teams' violence reduction programs for many years in the West Bank.

A few incidents four years ago convinced the Israeli Knesset that children near At-Tuwani needed an escort from Israeli soldiers to protect them from settler violence:

In 2004, two CPT members, Kim Lamberty and Chris Brown in At-Tuwani were severely injured when settlers attacked them as they were walking children to school.[17] A few days later, the team, along with Operation Dove and Amnesty International members were again attacked. In response to these attacks, the Israeli Knesset Committee for Children's Rights initiated an order to have soldiers escort the Palestinian children to school in At-Tuwani

The children continue to risk injury from settlers when their military escort is late or fails to appear.

Israeli Settlers Pursue Palestinian Children on Their Way to
Summer Camp; Israeli Military Fails to Escort Children

24 July 2008

AT-TUWANI – On Wednesday 23 July, three Israeli settlers, one masked and wielding a stick, pursued 14 Palestinian children who were on their way to a summer camp in At-Tuwani. The children from the villages of Tuba and Maghaer Al-Abeed waited 30 minutes for the Israeli military escort that should have accompanied them on the most direct road between the villages of Tuba and At-Tuwani. When the military failed to arrive, the children began walking along a long path through the hills to At-Tuwani. When the children neared the illegal Israeli settlement outpost of Havot Ma'on, three settlers came out from the outpost and began walking in the direction of the children. The settlers had two dogs with them.

International observers yelled to the children to alert them to the approaching settlers, who were pursuing them from behind. The children ran down and across a valley to a location further from the settlers. They continued to At-Tuwani. The settlers remained on a hill top near Havot Ma’on, watching the children as they walked toward the schoool.

The previous day, Tuesday 22 July, the military escort never arrived to escort the children to summer camp. Seven children took a long path to the school. They told international observers that at least eight other children did not attend summer camp because they were too afraid to come to school without an escort. The mayor of At-Tuwani spoke with Israeli military to coordinate the escort for the children. However, several military spokespersons and soldiers on the ground denied being ordered to escort the children.

In 2004 the Israeli Knesset recommended that the Israeli military carry out a daily escort of the children of Tuba and Maghaer Al-Abeed to their school in At-Tuwani in response to settler violence against them. In 2006 Israeli Minister of Defense stated that the illegal outpost of Havot Ma’on should be dismantled because of the settlers’ violence towards school children. During the 2007-2008 school year, settlers used violence against these children on at least 14 occasions.

Reprinted with Permission from Christian Peacemaker Teams

Cross-Posted at Booman Tribune and Street Prophets

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