April 2017 Report: Israel-Palestine
In the south Hebron Hills April was marked by the expansion of Avigayil illegal outpost, with a new building near a Palestinian valley, and the bleeding head of a boy from At-Tuwani who was hit by stones thrown by some settlers. At-Tuwani didn’t miss Israeli military presence as well. Following the presumed theft of beehives from Ma’on settlement, the army entered the village with a large number of soldiers with covered face, escorting an armed settler.
Furthermore Israeli forces denied access to Internationals in a Palestinian valley for 24 hours. The cause? A Scottish delegation who planted olive trees singing in solidarity with the Palestinian people.
During the days spent harvesting and transporting wheat and lucerne, which saw many Palestinian families busy in their work on the land adjacent to Ma’on settlement and outpost, groups of settlers wandered near such areas. They monitored, prayed, chased the shepherds, and stayed close to Palestinians and volunteers, pointing out their convinced supremacy on the surrounding land.
This desire to overwhelm and the total lack of recognition of the other part appeared also in the Jordan Valley area, where a group of Israeli activists from Ta’ayush association was attacked by about fifteen settlers, who threw stones at them.
Sadly, also children are sometimes victims of the violent rage of national-religious fanaticism. Because of the inefficiency of the military escort, a group of settlers pursued and threatened children returning from At-Tuwani school to the village of Tuba, forcing them to flee, and opening again those wounds that violence produces.
A few days before the same happened to Operazione Colomba volunteers: after accompanying Tuba children at the meeting point with the Israeli military escort, they were chased by a group of settlers from Havat Ma’on, and were forced to run away.
But next to these episodes, solidarity could still boast a conquest. After years, Operazione Colomba volunteers along with A., an Israeli activist of Ta’ayush and his two daughters, could accompany the children of Tuba back to their village, walking along that road that, due to the frequent attacks, have made the military escort essential. This time they walked without the presence of soldiers, who did not show up to escort the children and fortunately without any kind of attack.
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April saw many “old” volunteers visiting the village. They had been away for a while, physically but not with their hearths.
A visit was particularly appreciated, the leader of Association Pope John XXIII came to At-Tuwani to meet volunteers and leaders of the nonviolent resistance movement of South Hebron Hills.
The presence of an Italian clown brought great amusement among children for a couple of days and a nice dose of lightness and novelty in the village.
In the South Hebron Hills volunteers continued to accompany and work with villagers, living with them the moments of fatigue during harvesting and the satisfaction of seeing a tidy field at the end of the day. Working together helps to create a deeper bond with the people and the land that ends up becoming home even for the “ajaneb”, the stranger.