It was 1992…
Some volunteers and conscientious objectors of the Community Pope John XXIII, provoked by the Yugoslavia conflict that raged a few hundred kilometers on the other side of the Adriatic sea (the headquarters of the Association is in Rimini) and with the wish to effectively experience nonviolence approach in conflict areas, tried to reach refugee camps in Croatia.
They succeeded and the first major discovery was that foreign unarmed civilians could enter the wars.
Then they began to spend periods in refugee camps and discovered a second very important thing: the victims of contemporary wars are mostly civilians, people who cannot run away, the most defenseless: children, women, disabled, the elderly…
Soon they realized…
…that a permanent international presence was needed on both sides. The war, lived from inside, no longer appeared in black and white but it revealed shades of gray that the mass medias usually hide.
They discovered how the power of love, truth, and nonviolence could demolished the mechanism of hatred and destruction.
In this way…
…the Nonviolent Peace Corps of the Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII, called Operazione Colomba born. Sharing life with the victims of the conflicts (women, children, abandoned elderly, the disabled, refugees …), with a simple and neutral behavior, operating simultaneously on different sides of the conflict and on several levels, supporting the daily needs of people, but also promoting meetings with local institutions (religious and civil) and internationals. In those years Operazione Colomba has managed to bring together many families divided by the Yugoslavia war, to protect ethnic minorities and recreate spaces of peaceful coexistence.
Since 1995, Operazione Colomba has experienced nonviolent, disarmed interventions in many other conflicts in the world: Croatia – Bosnia and Herzegovina – Yugoslavia (1992 – 1997), Albania (1997), Sierra Leone (1997), Kosovo – Albania – Macedonia (1998 – 2000), East Timor – Indonesia (1999), Chiapas – Mexico (1998 – 2002), Chechnya – Russia (2000 – 2001), Democratic Republic of the Congo (2001), Gaza Strip – Palestine (2002 – 2003), Darfur – Sudan (2008).
Update from Tuwani, 27th september-7th october 2004
27th September 2004
At 12.20 p.m., two volunteers (one from CPT and one from Operation Dove) started walking with 5 children from Tuwane?s school to the children?s home in Tuba. They walked on the street between Maon settlement and Maon Hill outpost. They arrived at 12.50 in Tuba, where the volunteers spoke with the family about the difficulties to live in the place without using the road to Tuwani because of the settlers harassment to everyone passing by this road. The 4-5 families in Tuba are very poor and they live in caves. They are farmers and shepherds and they don?t have houses in other places. Only one of them has a tractor. One of the children looks like undernourished.
The children are forced to take a 6 kilometres way to reach the school, instead of the 2km one that is forbidden because of the settler?s violences.
28th September 2004
At 6.15 a.m., three volunteers from Cpt and one from Operation Dove started walking to Tuba on the ?short way?. They arrived in Tuba at 6.45 and walked back to Tuwani together with the children. They arrived in the school in Tuwani at 7.20 a.m.
At 11.30a.m., two volunteers tried to go to Yatta together with people from Tuwani with a car. In the junction between the main street to Hebron and the way entering in Tuwani, they found a military craft. The soldiers stopped and prevented them to continue. The officer said the area of Yatta was closed for three days for security reason, because the army was looking for terrorists. In the evening Kim and George discovered that what the soldiers said wasn?t true and that D.C.O. never ordered to close the area.
At 12.20p.m., one volunteer from Cpt and one from Operation Dove walked from Tuwani to Tuba together with the children in the ?short way?. They arrived in Tuba around 12.50p.m. They started to come back around 12.55 and when they were walking in the middle of the road, in front of the gate to Maon settlement and the junction with the street to the outpost, they met a man from the Settlement Security with a car. The man stopped the volunteers and ask them where were they going and where they were from. They said they are friend of the families in Tuba and Tuwani and were coming back from Tuba because of their accompaniment for the children from Tuwani to Tuba. The man asked one of them to show him the passport, the volunteer asked if he was a public official, and at negative answer the volunteer refused to show the passport and went away.
At 6.00a.m. two volunteers from Cpt started to walk to Tuba.
At 7.05 a.m. one volunteer in Tuwani, seeing they were not came back, called one of them. He spoke with very difficult breathing, saying they were attacked from settlers just some minutes before. At 7.15 two volunteers called the police station in Kyriat Arba and said what happened, then they started walking to the place of the attack. They found the two volunteers attacked in a small field close to the fence of the stockfarm near Maon?s gate settlement, in the junction with the street to Tuba, in the same place where they met the man of the Settlement Security the day before. Kim Lamberty was sitting on earth with the back let to a big stone, Chris Brown was standing on but with the face completely stained with blood, with a big contusion on the left side of the head and on the back and with a very difficult breathing. The clothes of Chris and Kim were stained with blood?s spots and there were also a spot of blood on a stone on the earth. Kim had the right leg completely immobilized so as the left harm. One of the volunteers started shooting a video as soon as he arrived in the place. They called the OCHA office in Hebron to inform what happened. The OCHA office called the police and said that the four internationals were standing in the place under threat of the same people that attacked Chris and Kim and asked to police to go immediately in the place to avoid other attacks. The police said they had sent immediately a car. Between 7.24 and 8.00 the four people stayed in the place waiting the police in a dangerous situation.
To have a right knowledge on the fact is possible to see the video.
At 7.45 arrived a settlers from Maon Gate, member of the Security. He asked what happened, made some calls, and after said that he were sorry but also is not so good that international come there because they make problem like that fact. He said that international presence there broked a balance and that someone read this presence like a provocation. He asked also ?Why do you come here??
Around 8.00 the police came(car n.22-478) and a military jeep (611283) too, and after some minutes the ambulance arrived. The number of the police car, the military jeep and ambulance could be visible in the video.
After the ambulance left with Cris, Kim and another volunteer accompanying them, the soldier prevent the other volunteer to walk back to Tuwane because the street was inside the military closed area. They didn?t show him any paper. The police said the soldier are the autorithy and what they said they have to accept. Finally the police took the v olunteer in the car towards the main street, trough Maon?s road. From the main street he went to Tuwane walking. In the afternoon came three police cars with the inspector. They took George to the place of the attack and asked him to say what he saw and what Cris and Kim said to him. After that the inspector named Cobi said they will put a police car in the place of the attack the day after to protect the children and the internationals.
At 6.05a.m four volunteers went to Tuba taking the children. On the road to Tuba they didn?t find the car. They called the police and they said they will come in 30 minutes. The internationals walked to Tuba and wait there the arrival of the police on the road to Tuwane. After 20 minutes they walked to Tuwane and they find a police car in the place of the attack. Probably they misunderstood cause the different time between Israel and Palestinian Autority who changed the time few days after. The children and the internationals walked without problems to Tuwane.
At 11.40a.m, come in the village a military jeep (611283) with the officer called Ofer. The soldier said to the chief of the village and some volunteers that it could be very dangerous for the children and them come back to Tuba, because that was an holiday for the Jews and could be more problem than the day before and more blood could be spread off. The chief of the village, the teachers of the school and the internationals decided to come to Tuba with the long way on foot because the short one could be more dangerous than the day before.
The school was closed because was friday.
At 6.00 two volunteers from Cpt and two from Operation Dove and three Israelis pacifists walked to Tuba for the short way. When they were coming back to Tuwani together with the children they received a call from the chief of the village in Tuwani that the school was closed because of the strike against the high number of killed the day before in Gaza. The children come back home and the volunteers went back to Tuwani.
At 6.00 a.m. the four volunteers and two Israelis pacifists walked on the short way to Tuba. On the way they found a police car, the policemen said they were waiting to escort them and the children. On the way back to Tuwane, with the police car there were also two military crafts (one with number 611283) with the officer called Ofer. The army brought the military order to close the street for 72 hours. The soldiers said them to take the long way. The volunteers showed the officer a paper from the military office of the middle side of Israel saying that the street between Tuwani and Tuba was open to the children. The officer read the paper and made a call with the radio. After the call he said the street between Tuwani and Tuba wasn?t this one but the long one and that people colud bring the children to school with the tractor if they want. After speaking the officer allowed the children to go at school on the short way escorted from the police but he didn?t allowed the international and the Israelis. After 2 hours under the sun without water, the volunteers decided to go out of the area walking in the direction of the settlement. They walked near the fence of the settlement and enter inside it from a gap of the fence, and immediately come the security to prevent them, but after they explained the situation he allowed them to pass through and go to the main street.
At 12.50 two of the volunteers walked to Tuba with the children on the long way. In some sides of this path the children run because the path is exposed to the sight of the settlers from the hill, and the children are very scared. After arriving in Tuba, the volunteers walked back to Tuwani on the long way.
Children went to school for the long way without accompaniment.
Children went to school for the long way.
At 10.30a.m arrived in Tuwane Annaliese Reynemeyer representative of the American Consulate. She met the head of the village and the volunteers and heard about what happened to Chris and Kim.
At 12.40a.m three volunteers and four Israelis pacifists walked with the children from Tuwani to Tuba on the short way. When they were walking near the place of the attack, one settler from the outpost under the trees shout them something. They arrived with the children on Tuba without any problem. On the way back, they met a car from Settlement Security in the place of the attack, in the car there were the same settler that came after the attack of Cris and Kim, and a woman officer of the Army. They spoke with the Israelis pacifists and also tried to stop one of them with the car just for 5 seconds. The volunteers and the Israelis walked in Tuwane?s direction. When they were around 50 meters far from the place of the attack, in the middle of the street, they saw some stones falling down near them. They saw one masked young man, with a green t-shirt throwing them some stones from the outpost?s trees. They start walking faster, scared from this attack, but they saw the security man and the girl soldier seeing everything but smoking one sigarette without doing anything. One of the volunteers called the Inspector named Daniel, colleague of Inspector Cobi and said what was happening. It was 14.15p.m.
At 14.30 the volunteers were in Tuwane when they met a military car (611283). The officer said the day after they will come to protect them on the street.
At 6.00 four international volunteers and four Israelis pacifists walked to Tuba from Tuwani and they didn?t find the soldiers. They called the DCO that said the soldiers were coming. They met the soldiers in the place of the attack on Chris and Kim. The officer, the same of the day before, showed them a military order closing the area from the day before (from 19p.m) to 13th of October. They walked to Tuba and after went to Tuwani together with the children on the long way. The military order was signed from a person named MOTI.
The children went to school on the long way. Around 14.00p.m. come in the Tuwani a military car (611283) with the same officer of the day before. He said to the chief of the village that the day after he could go to Tuba and Tuwani with the children, with a military car on the road protecting them on the short way, but for everyone else (volunteers and Israelis) the street was closed again.
At 6.00a.m. five volunteers together with a Palestinian men from the village, walked to Tuba on a different way, from the opposite site of the outpost hill and out of the area closed by the army. They arrived to Tuba and came back to Tuwane together with the children on the same way.
When they arrived, with the children, closed to the outpost under the trees two military cars came, one hammer and one jeep number 611283 with the officer called Ofer, Came also a man of the Settlement?s Security, the same of the morning of the attack to Chris and Kim.
The officer said that area was closed military area too, and for that the volunteer had to walk 100meters far from there. The officer allowed the children to walk on the street that surrounds the hill and the soldier escorted them together with the chief of the village. The volunteers were forced to walk for another street longer and distant. During the speech with the officer, the settler took pictures of the volunteers and also of the children. The volunteers tried to deny him to take pictures of the children but he continued and the soldiers didn?t stop him.
One volunteer asked him if he has seen two days before the masked man throwing them stones. He said yes and that he can?t do anything.
At 12.40 two volunteers from Cpt and one from Operation Dove, and two ladies from Amnesty International Office in London, together with the children and a Palestinian man from the village, walked from Tuwani to Tuba on the same street of the morning (medium way).they arrived in Tuba about 3.00 p.m. During the walk to and from Tuba they saw Israeli?s security forces patrol jeeps in the area near the Havat Ma?on outpost.
Around half of the way, they saw a group of five and a group of three settlers. In the group of five two had black head and covered faces, and other three had light coloured covers. At least two of them had stick and two had slings. We didn?t notice if the group of three was carrying something.
The group of five walked in the direction of the volunteers and throw stones towards them both with slings and hands. The group of three seemed to have gone down to the side of the hill on the right side of the volunteers group, and we didn?t see them any more. One of the volunteers immediately called the police station in Kiryat Arba. The Palestinian run to Tuwani and the volunteers continued to walk faster away from the men who continued to chase them and threw stones. The group start to walk faster towards the volunteers that tried to run faster away from them. They start to attack an Italian volunteer, Adriano, and severely beat him with the stick and stones and took his camera. One of Amnesty?s representative was beat in the arm.
The aggression lasted 5 minutes and after that Adriano collapsed. Eventually an army patrol arrived on the scene, then a second army patrol come and one soldier took Adriano?s pulse and administered him an IV physiological solution. Later the police patrol and an ambulance came. A security guard from the Ma?on settlement had also come, before the others. He arrived in a white car carrying a weapon. He remained there and spoke to the army and police patrols. Adriano could recognize just one of the attackers because his mask went down until the mouth. They were all young (seemingly early 20s), medium height and slim built. (They spoke Hebrew; one women spoke to them in Hebrew: Lama atem hosing kaze, ma atem rotzim,hitkasharnu a mistara, ha mistara bederek ?Why are you doing that, what do you want, we have called the police, the police is on the way? One of them said; atem im haaravim ?You are with the arabs?; they said other things in Hebrew which we didn?t understand.
The volunteers of Operation Dove
Update from At-Tuwani – September 13-18, 2004
11.30 a.m. : one military jeep on the Main Road n. 317 forbids a tractor coming from Yatta to cross the road to reach At-Tuwani. The tractor is transporting concrete bricks for sheep’s shelters. The volunteers are in village in that moment, they go down to the road, but the jeep, as soon as the tractor returns back, goes away.
16.00 p.m. : one military jeep comes in At-Tuwani with 3 soldiers on board. It crosses the village coming until last olive trees toward the settlement, then they do a U-turn. The volunteers go towards them at the street’s cross in the middle of the village and take photos to the coming jeep. The soldiers stop to ask the volunteers who they are, then they go away. The volunteers take other photos.
21.00 p.m.: one jeep stops on the Main Road n. 317 for about 15 minutes, patrolling the hill towards At-Tuwani with a headlight. Then it goes on in the direction of the settlement.
During the night( (about 01.30 a.m.) one military vehicle crosses the village without stop.
Start the works at the clinic.
08.30 a.m.: one hummer comes in the village, stops in the clinic’s work area, 3 soldiers get out. The volunteers are present on the site, while the frightened Palestinians, inhabitants of the village, have gone away from the site. The soldiers say they are informed about an illegal building in the village. They ask about our nationalities. They call to the command, then they go away.
During all the time, one of the volunteers films with the camcorder.
10.00 a.m.: one jeep with 6 soldiers on board crosses the village. It stops, the soldiers make some questions about the presence of Internationals, then they go away. One of the volunteers takes photos to the jeep. From that moment, one of the volunteers takes a stand on the top of the hill, from where is possible to see both the access roads to the village, and the Main Road n. 317, and also the road that goes around the hill towards the settlement. It’s probable that from the settlement she could be seen, but this position also guarantees to warn the inhabitants of At-Tuwani working at the clinics, as well as a worker coming from Yatta. In fact, they were threatened few days before to be arrested if founded at the clinic works.
11.30 a.m.: one jeep crosses the village up and down 3-4 times. After that, it goes down to the Main Road where the soldiers stop for two times a tractor coming from Yatta getting sand and cement for the clinic building. The volunteers immediately go down to the road within two Palestinians, and film the military intervention. Third time the soldiers order by a megaphone the driver to come back. As soon as the tractors goes back, they go away. Volunteers continue to film until the complete removal. After half an hour, the tractor is able to cross the Road.
15.30 p.m.: two jeeps go many times up and down to the Main Road, slowing down on the level of the country road coming to At-Tuwani.
16.15 p.m.: one hummer, coming from Suseya, crosses the village with 5 soldiers on board. They stop and speak to the volunteers, after that they remind the villagers, present with the volunteers in that moment, of the prohibition of the clinic’s building without permission.
Then they ask to the villagers if they know Ta’ayush Association, and some of the members. The villagers confirm to know Ta’ayush and the named persons. Before going, the soldiers say they will come to the village also by night and in the following days to control the situation. Volunteers film with the camera.
During the night (around 02.00 a.m.) , one hummer crosses the village patrolling it with a headlight.
09.50 a.m.: one police jeep comes o the building area. About 30 Israeli and International activist are present for a working day. The policemen say they came for security checks.
10.30 a.m.: one military jeep comes to the building area stopping for about an hour watching the works. Subsequently another military jeep arrives, and a soldier takes many pictures to the area and to the bulldozer digging the fundaments. Ta’ayush activists take pictures and film with the camcorder, like the volunteers present in the village.
Two police jeeps turn up. Police takes the written order to stop the works, and communicate it to the village and work’s responsible. They order to the bulldozer driver to get down from the vehicle, and to all the present volunteers to stop working. All the crafts, from army and police both, remain until all the volunteers go away from the building area. In the afternoon around 15.30 a group from Ta’ayush escort the driver with the bulldozer up to Kh.Al Karmil village.
18.30 p.m.: one military jeep crosses the village without stop, after few minutes another jeep arrives, stops talking with the village people and 4 soldiers get down. Volunteers film with the camcorder. One of the soldiers forbids the volunteers to take photos and film, frightening the children with threatening actions of the weapon, turned with the barrel towards people. among the people there were some children. The soldiers go away after few minutes.
03.30 a.m.: one military jeep crosses the village without stop, with the headlight lit up, and sounding the intermittent siren frightening the children in the houses all around.
07.10 a.m.: one military jeep crosses the village without stop.
09.30 a.m.: one hummer stops in the building area and a soldier threats one villager working at the nearby beehive, saying that if they find him working at the clinic building, they will take him to Hebron Settlement. Volunteers film with the camcorder, after they speak with the soldier to let down tension. The vehicle goes away.
11.00 a.m.: one hummer comes to the building area. Some Internationals of International Solidarity Movement, present by chance in At-Tuwani, make notice to a soldier, who identified himself as the security responsible for the area, that repeated passing of military vehicles, especially by night, frights the villagers, especially children. The official maintains that he didn’t give orders to his subjected to make nocturnal patrols, and assures he will investigate. He refuse at the request of declare his name and rank made by the Internationals.
12.00 p.m., 13.00 p.m., 14.00 p.m.: military jeeps or hummers cross the area, stop talking with international volunteers, check the building area noticing that works seem to make progresses every time. Then they go away without get down from the vehicles.
There are photos and films about military and police actions, and also about the building works and Ta’ayush working day.
Operation Dove – Nonviolent Peace Corp
Update from Abud village, 15 September – 9 September, 2004
REPORT FROM ABUD VILLAGE
SEMPTEMBER 15TH 2004
On september 15th,
At 7,40 one jeep and one vagon from IDF stayed in the entrance of the village.
The soldiers started to check people which were waiting for the taxi to Ramallah.
The official in service gave to 8 young men a simple paper from notebook (without signs of IDF or of DCO).
On the paper was written the ID of the young and the date and hour for an appointement to go to Ofer to speak with the official in charge for the area. The official, who wrote these papers, said to be himself the official in charge for the area and wrote his name on the papers that gave to the youthes. The name is SCIMI.
Then the two military crafs continued to stay in the place, but after they moved inside the village.
At 9,10 two volonteers met the two cars of the soldiers while they were walking in the Main Street of Abud.
There were around 8 soldiers and 4 men, inhabitants of the village stationing in the street.
The volonteers ,stopped at about 4 metres from the people looking towards them.
One of the soldiers, standing by one of the crafs, walked towards the two voloonteers asking who they were, where they lived, what they were doing. They explained they were italians, living in the town.
He asked them to show their passports, he checked the documents.
The volonteers asked what was happened and he replied nothing, they were only checking. Then he said good bye to them and told them to go away. The volonteers said that they wanted to stay looking. At that point another soldier walked towards them from the jeep, asked the same questions and then asked for passpots, the volonteers said they were just been checked, the soldier said he wanted check another time, the volonteers gave him the passports, he took the documents, the volonteers asked if they could take photes, the soldiers said no, so the volonteer said it isn’t forbidden, the soldier said another time no walking towards the jeep.
After few seconds he came back and gave back the documents and said to go away. The volonteers reply they wanted to stay as they can stay.
The soldier asked to go ten metres faraway.
They walk back and after few minutes the two craft leaved.
The number of the jeep (with the offcial inside) was 669956. The number of the vagon was 63?834. The volonteers didn’t got one number from the vagon number.
REPORT FROM ABUD VILLAGE
SEMPTEMBER 9TH 2004
On september 9th
During the night between september 9th and 10th, at 1,30 am, two crafts of IDF, stazioned in the centre of the village, at the beginning of the street called Church Street.
One volonteer was awoken by loud noises: hard knocks against the gates of the houses.
He went near the window looking in the street:there were three soldier under the street-lamp, standing like militar training. At five metres from they there was a militar van parked.
The volonteer went in the street slowly, with the hands up, and keeping the passport in one hand. He stopped in front of the light of the car, and asked in english to speak with the officer. The volonteer, turning on the left side, saw an hammer stopped there. The soldier said to go nearby the hammer.
Here an officer, about 20 years old, checked the passport and asked what the volonteer was doing here, the volonteer explained he lives here and asked if some militar order there had been about that action , if they had to arrest someone and the reason for the hard noise during the night. The officer replied that a volonteer have no right to say to a soldier what he can or can’t do, the volonteer replied that he didn’t want to say him what he had or hadn’t to do, but just ask if he had received militar orders to awake people in the middle of the night. Then another soldier spoke in a low voice to the officer who said goodnight to the volonteer. The volonteer replied and all the soldiers went away.
Update on Operation Dove from Aboud, 31 August – 5 September, 2004
At 11.15 p.m. 3 hammers and one military ambulance, entered in the village. Two hammers stationed in the muslim side, on the Main Street, and arrested two youth that were sitting out of a shop. After 30 minutes the two youth were released. The other hammer toghether military anbulance stationed in the christian side of the village, on the Main Street. Two our volunteers met the soldier and asked to them if they known something about one possible arrest happened in the up side of the village. They said that they hadn’t arrest people. After that the soldiers went away.
At 19.20 one Hammer drove on the street of the Ortodox Church and shoot one sounds bombs.
At 19.10 two hammers entered in the village. Some youth start to throw stones. From one hammer a soldier shoot some rubber bullets. One bullet got a child of 9 years old on the head, but furtunatly wasn’t hurt.
Two our volunteer seen the situation and stand on the street. Two hammer come near them but didn’t ask to speak. The offcial spoke for 1 minutes withone child and after that the soldiers went away.
Operation Dove – Nonviolent Peace Corps