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[Note: According to the Geneva Conventions, the International Court of Justice in the Hague, and numerous United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) are illegal. Most settlement outposts are considered illegal under Israeli law.]
At-Tuwani – On Wednesday morning, 30 December 2009, an Israeli settler from the outpost of Havat Ma’on (Hill 833) chased and threw stones at Palestinian schoolchildren from the villages of Tuba and Maghayir Al-Abeed. The Israeli army exposed the children to this attack by arriving more than 90 minutes late to escort the children to their school in the village of At-Tuwani.
The schoolchildren had been waiting for the army escort to arrive for nearly 30 minutes when an Israeli settler came out from a house within Havat Ma’on. The fourteen Palestinian children, ages 6-15, immediately began to move away from the settler, towards their village. Witnesses reported that when the settler saw the children moving away, he charged towards them, hurling stones at the children with a slingshot. He chased them several hundred meters, all the way back to their village. Tareq Ibrahim Abu Jundiyye, a 15-year-old boy from Tuba, spoke about the experience: “The younger kids started crying as we were running away because they were afraid the settler would catch them. I mean, we had to run away. If I had stayed I would have been struck on the head by a rock.”
While the children were waiting, international peace activists made calls to the local army office, urging them to send soldiers to escort the schoolchildren. The army dispatcher claimed that the soldiers thought there was no school because of the rain. The army only arrived after the mayor of At-Tuwani called the Palestinian District Coordinating Office (DCO), a Palestinian body responsible for liaising with the Israeli military regarding civilian affairs in Area C, and the DCO in turn spoke with the Israeli army. The army’s late arrival caused the children to miss their first two classes of the day.
The young Palestinian children require a military escort to and from school because of repeated attacks by Israeli settlers from Ma’on and Havat Ma’on. The children must wait for the Israeli military in an area controlled by the Israeli settlers, a location where settlers have attacked the children several times in the past.
For a complete report on the school escort in 2007-2008, including maps, photographs and interviews with the children, please see “A Dangerous Journey” at http://snipurl.com/tx24j