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Yesterday, 17th July 2010, the Summer Camp for children began in the primary school of At-Tuwani, a small village in the South Hebron Hills. Every morning for two weeks, Palestinian and International trainers will organize games and activities for children from 6 to 14 years old. Part of the Summer Camp will take place in Al Fakheit, a village in the desert further south of At-Tuwani, where the school started only last September to guarantee the right to access education for children. The Israeli military escort started, at the beginning of the summer camp, accompaning the children that daily join the camp from the villages of Tuba and Magayr Al-Abeed.
Since 2001, Israeli settlers from Havat Ma’on outpost have routinely attacked the children on their journey to and from school but it was not until November 2004 that Israeli authorities established a daily military escort.
The soldiers carrying out the escort have at times failed to protect the children, as result from the annual report about the 2009-2010 school year, available in the next few weeks. From the last statistics, in fact, it has emerged that during the last school year the children have been victims of violence by settlers 19 times.
Furthermore, the military failed to provide a consistent escort for the children not walking with them along the path in 75% of the cases, refusing to complete the escort until the end of the settlement in 94% of the cases and forcing them to run in 11 cases.
During the last school year, soldiers have also frequently arrived late, causing the children to wait, sometimes for hours, before and after school. Children missed almost 27 hours of school and waited a total of 53 hours for military escort after school.
The data collected during the 2009-2010 school year will be released in few weeks inside the annual school patrol report. The report documenting the 2008-2009 military escort of the schoolchildren, “The Closed Road to Education. Palestinian students suffer under violent settlement expansion,” is available at: snipurl.com/ubr2w
Operation Dove and Christian Peacemaker Teams have maintained an international presence in At-Tuwani and South Hebron Hills since 2004.