Israeli forces raid At Tuwani after women and children’s nonviolent action

Operation Dove, February 12, 2017

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This Saturday morning residents of the Palestinian village of At Tuwani were grazing sheep and enjoying a day of outdoor picnics when Israeli soldiers entered the village en masse, turning the peaceful village into a military theatre. The raid appeared to be part of the price paid by residents for their nonviolent resistance to settler violence in the South Hebron Hills:  twice in recent weeks Palestinians have gathered to peacefully plant olive trees on Palestinian land on the outskirts of the village, near the illegal Israeli outpost of Havat Ma’on.

On the morning of February 11 more than a dozen Israeli soldiers entered the village in military vehicles. The heavily armed soldiers forced their way into houses and courtyards and began questioning the inhabitants, demanding to see all of their children between the ages of 13 and 18. They ordered Palestinians who asked for an explanation for the raid to show their ID’s, and forced several young men to spread their arms against buildings and cars while soldiers searched their bodies and clothing at gunpoint. The soldiers showed no official orders for the raid, but moved from house to house throughout the morning, questioning men and women, terrifying the children, and violating the human rights of the Palestinian residents of At Tuwani. Soldiers also demanded to see the passports of Operation Dove volunteers who were filming the raid.

Saturday’s military invasion was the second time in ten days that Israeli soldiers have completely disrupted work and life in the village of At Tuwani, and it will likely not be the last.  Before leaving the village this Saturday the soldiers threatened to return in the night.

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Operation Dove’s campaign #TogetherAtTuwani provides volunteers in the South Hebron Hills to support Palestinian shepherds as they remain on their land and choose to use nonviolent means, along with Israeli activists, to protect their lives and rights.

Operation Dove volunteers were first called to the village of At-Tuwani in 2004. Today, 13 years later, they still share daily life with communities throughout the South Hebron Hills. They support the popular nonviolent resistance by accompanying Palestinians on lands vulnerable to settler attacks and to harassment by Israeli soldiers.

You can donate to this effort.

A Dangerous Road to Education

Dear Friends,

It is absolutely bizarre to be watching Trump’s policies of hatred unfold from inside Palestine — here where ANY traveler or foreigner finds herself overwhelmed by kindness and hospitality. If we find ourselves at a loss to imagine resisting over the long haul we should take courage from these schoolchildren who for the past THIRTEEN YEARS have required a military escort in order to reach their school safely in the face of settler violence and intimidation. We have a long long road ahead!

Thank you so much for helping me to spend this time working here — and for all your efforts to stop the madness in the US!!!

Mary House of Hospitality

The second semester of school has just started for these children, and Operation Dove has compiled the following report of the challenges faced by the children during the first semester.

A DANGEROUS ROAD TO EDUCATION

Palestinian students under settler violence and military negligence
SUMMARY OF THE 2016-2017 SCHOOL YEAR – 1ST SEMESTER
Period: 2016/08/28 – 2017/01/10
Full report here: http://tuwaniresiste.operazionecolomba.it/a-dangerous-road…/

Children from the Palestinian villages of Tuba and Maghayir Al-Abeed began the first semester of the 2016-17 school year with Israeali soldiers escorting them to their school in the nearby Palestinian village of At-Tuwani. This is the thirteenth continuous year that these children have needed a military escort in order to walk to school safely.

To get to school the children must walk along a road which once provided easy travel between the villages, but which now runs between the Israeli settlement of Ma’on and the illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on. For the past thirteen years violent behavior by settlers from the outpost, the existence of which is illegal under both Israeli and International law, has made the road inaccessible to Palestinians. Even escorted by Israeli soldiers the schoolchildren continue to face the possibility of violence, harassment and intimidation as they walk to and from school.

During the first semester of the 2016-2017 school year an average of eight children between the ages of six and 16 walked with a military escort to and from school in the Palestinian village of At- Tuwani. Under Israeli Knesset Committee for Children’s Rights order, the military escort is responsible for protecting the children from settler violence and intimidation throughout their walk to school in the morning, and their return trip home in the afternoon.

Even with a military escort the walk between home and school remains difficult for the children of Tuba and Maghyir al Abeed. During the first semester of the 2016-17 school year the escort arrived late 23 times (in the morning) out of a total of 88 monitored school days. As a result the children missed a total of 7 hours of school (441 minutes).

Operation Dove volunteers reported an even greater incidence of late arrival by the escort in the afternoon, forcing the children to arrive home late and to lose their free time waiting. On 33 out of 88 school days (37%) the children were forced to wait in At- Tuwani after school for the arrival of the escort. During the first semester they waited for a total of more than 27 hours (1630 minutes).

The meeting points with the military escort, for both the morning and the afternoon walk, are very close to the illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on, and as a result, when the escort is late, the children must wait where they are vulnerable to settler violence and harassment. During the first semester of the 2016-17 school year the children waited for the escort at these dangerous meeting points for a total of 35 hours.

During the first semester the military escort failed to arrive on four occasions, once in the morning and three times in the afternoon. These incidents constitute extremely serious failures on the part of the escort to adequately protect the children. The children cannot use the road without the presence of the soldiers, due to the danger of settler attacks. In previous years, when the escort has failed to arrive, the children used an alternative footpath which runs around the outside of the illegal outpost of Havat Ma’on. However settlers from the illegal outpost have now built a new structure near the path, some distance from the outpost, making this path nearly impassable. The presence of this structure and an increased level of settler violence and intimidation of Palestinians using this path has made it too dangerous for the children, and as a result they must now take a much longer route between school and home if the soldiers fail to arrive. This longer path takes between 45 minutes and one hour, and is extremely difficult, especially for the youngest children. Even on this longer path the children are vulnerable to violence and harassment from settlers. During the first semester the children used this longer route on three of the four occasions on which the escort failed to meet them.

In one case the escort failed to meet the children after school because the soldiers did not know the location of the meeting point, which has been unchanged for thirteen years. The schoolchildren began to take the longer route, even though it is also dangerous for them if they are unaccompanied. They found the soldiers on the path and reached the village of Tuba safely, escorted by Israeli soldiers under strong pressure of Operation Dove volunteers.

In all four of these cases the Israeli soldiers gave no reasonable explanation for their failure to meet the children, either to Operation Dove volunteers or to the children themselves.

MILITARY ESCORT MISCONDUCTS

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Remembering Rachel Corrie

March 16 marked 13 years since 23-year-old American peace activist Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by an Israeli Army bulldozer while trying to prevent the demolition of the Nasrallah family home in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Palestine. While some measure of accountability and justice has been achieved for UK citizens Tom Hurndall and James Miller, the two other internationals killed by Israel in that same awful period, there has been no justice for Rachel Corrie within either the U.S. or the Israeli legal system.

Nevertheless, Rachel’s stand in Gaza still inspires us and countless others around the world to work for peace with justice for Palestine, and for Gaza in particular, with a special focus on improving the lives of children who represent the best hope for the future.

Here in Madison, we will celebrate the life of Rachel Corrie on Sunday, April 3, at 7 pm at Christ Presbyterian Church, 944 East Johnson Street, with an eye-witness report from a local volunteer just returned from two months of volunteering in Palestine with Operation Dove. We invite you to join us for dessert and refreshments, and to help support the installation of a playground in Hebron, Palestine.

Today, as we remember Rachel, please take a moment to read the following comment and appeal from our partners and friends at the Rachel Corrie Foundation in Olympia, Washington, Rachel’s home town, where a remembrance is being held.

March 10th – April 10th: A time of rebirth and reflection

Dear Friends,

Here in our hometown of Olympia, Washington, another spring unfolds with persistent showers, daffodils along the roadsides, and trees blooming more vibrantly with each passing day. It’s March again, a time of rebirth. In our community, and certainly at the Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, our thoughts turn to Rachel – to the upcoming thirteenth anniversary of her stand in Gaza and, unbelievably for her family, to her upcoming 37th birthday April 10th.

As I write, we are preparing for our local March 16th gathering when we will celebrate Rachel’s community here in Olympia, those in Gaza whom she grew to love, and all of you who with your interest and actions have become a community of supporters. We will reflect upon Rachel’s stand thirteen years ago and upon those in Gaza who continue to live and struggle there. We will spend the day and month exploring how we can make a difference for our global community and for our friends in the Middle East.

Already word is trickling in from some of you about the remembrances you’ve planned or are creating – the gatherings, the new poetry written, the projects you will support in Rachel’s memory. We are touched to hear from you and grateful.

During this month, as we pause to remember, we need your help. Each of you are so important to the work we do in my daughter’s name at the Rachel Corrie Foundation. You continue to provide the encouragement and the resources that make all our efforts possible – the educational events, the projects in Gaza, the scholarships, the advocacy, the networking, and more.

During this month, we have a special opportunity. A dedicated supporter has offered $12,500 as a matching grant. If, by Rachel’s birthday on April 10th, we can equal this amount through your grassroots contributions, we will also receive the generous matching gift. Once again, whatever you are able to do to help will make a difference, to this effort and also to maximizing our work for peace with justice.

At the Rachel Corrie Foundation, our Board of Directors and staff are turning attention to youth outreach, to expanding communications, and to sustainability. As we do so, we are thinking about Rachel’s legacy – what it is, and what elements of it are most important to nurture and maintain. You can lend a hand by letting us know your thoughts about these questions and by helping us find the resources that will strengthen the Rachel Corrie Foundation for the years and decades ahead – when Rachel’s dad and I are less able to carry on as volunteers ourselves.

Our staff looks forward to being in touch with you in the coming weeks, sharing more about our work and dreams. Meanwhile, during this month of rebirth, so many thanks for continuing to remember and continuing to inspire.

Sincerely,
Cindy Corrie
President of Rachel Corrie Foundation

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Update: April 3, 2016
Annual Rachel Corrie Commemoration

Sunday, April 3, 7 pm,
Christ Presbyterian Church
944 East Gorham Street, Madison WI

You are invited to the annual Rachel Corrie commemoration: Dessert and an Eye-Witness Report

 
Featuring a local activist just returned from volunteering with Operation Dove in the South Hebron Hills, Palestine

Free and open to the public; beverages and desserts including baklawa will be served. Donations will help build a playground at the Qurtuba School in Tel Rumeida, Hebron.

March 16, 2016 marks 13 years since an Israeli soldier bulldozed 23-year-old American peace activist Rachel Corrie to death as she protested the demolition of a family home in Rafah, Gaza Strip, Palestine. Each year at this time, the Madison-Rafah Sister City Project (MRSCP) honors Rachel’s memory with an event that benefits Palestinian children.

This year, we feature an eye-witness report with slides & video about the non-violent people’s resistance in the South Hebron Hills, including the role of the international protective presence for shepherds, who graze Palestinian land near violent settler outposts, and children, who must travel a harrowing gauntlet of settler intimidation to reach their schools. Join us to hear these stories, and to learn about the Tel Rumeida playground and help us make it a reality.

The event is also scheduled to feature a BRAND NEW shipment of gorgeous many-colored kufiyahs from Hirbawi Textiles and beautiful earrings from the Hebron Women’s Co-op. AND we’ll have olive oil and zaatar tasting; Holy Land Olive Oil will be on sale.

Note: If possible, please RSVP to Donna Wallbaum at dwallbaum at gmail.com by Friday, April 1 so that we will be sure to have enough food. Co-sponsored by: MRSCP; Playgrounds for Palestine-Madison; Mary House of Hospitality; and American Friends Service Committee of the Madison Friends Meeting

Update:
Co-sponsored by: Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, Playgrounds for Palestine-Madison Chapter, Mary House of Hospitality, Christ Presbyterian Church Middle East Action Team; and the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) of Madison.

Like to contribute to the playground but can’t come to the event? You can send a check made out to MRSCP marked “playground” to:

    MRSCP
    P.O. Box 5214
    Madison, WI 53705

Or donate directly to Playgrounds for Palestine at this link:
http://www.playgroundsforpalestine.org/support-pfp.php.

September 19, 2010
PALESTINE: DANGEROUS PASSAGE TO SCHOOL

Goodman Community Center
149 Wabesa St, Madison
Room Bolz B
5 7 pm [Map]

Free and open to all — light refreshments

A report on the Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) work in the south Hebron hills, as part of an ongoing project in the small town of Tuwani, providing witness and support to Palestinian children as they travel each day to school.

Sponsored by the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice. Contact: Stefania at stefania (at) wnpj.org or 608-250-9240. To learn more, go to wnpj.org.