Press Release: Ongoing harassment by Israeli army against South Hebron Hills Palestinian communities

Ongoing harassment by Israeli army against South Hebron Hills Palestinian communities
[Note: According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Hague Regulations, the International Court of Justice, and several United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements and outposts in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal. Most settlement outposts, including Havat Ma’on (Hill 833), are considered illegal also under Israeli law.]

South Hebron Hills – December 15th, 2010

On Monday 14th December 2010, the Israeli army demolished three water cisterns and two old wells in the bedouin villages of Khashem Ad Daraj – Hathaleen, South Hebron Hills. On the same day, due to the negligence of the army, Palestinian school children from Tuba and Maghaiyr al-Abeed had to wait almost two hours for the escort arrival, thus missing some hours of lesson and facing the risk of being attacked by the Israeli settlers from Havat Ma’on outpost.

On the early morning, five bulldozers, escorted by several Israeli army, border police and DCO (the Israeli army branch dealing with civil administration) vehicles, reached Khashem Ad Daraj – Hathaleen area and demolished five water cisterns belonging to the bedouin communities of the area.

These villages are situated in Area C, where, according to the Oslo Agreements, Israel maintains the complete military and civil control.

Among the demolished structures, there were also two wells built about 70 years ago, which have been filled with earth by the bulldozers. As these structures were built before the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories in 1967, their demolition is an evident violation of both international and Israeli military laws concerning the protection of private property in occupied territories.

According to the DCO officials attending the demolitions, the Civil Administration had never issued any permit for the water cisterns, that hence received a demolition order. The destruction of the water wells and cisterns directly impacts the livelihood of Palestinian communities in south Hebron.

On the same morning, within a distance of few kilometers, the Israeli military escort, that every day has to accompany the Palestinians school children from the villages of Tuba and Maghaiyr al-Abeed on their way to school in the village of At-Tuwani, arrived almost two hours late.

Due to the negligence of the army, Palestinian school children had to wait in an area where in the past they had been repeatedly attacked by Israeli settlers from the nearby Havat Ma’on outpost, facing the risk of being attacked again.

During the last school year, the children of Tuba and Maghayir al-Abeed missed almost 30 hours of lessons, had to wait more than 50 hours for the army to escort them back home and have been subjected to 19 violent attacks perpetrated by the Israeli settlers from Havat Ma’on outpost.

The Israeli policy in Area C is to prevent the development of Palestinian communities, by denying building permits and by demolishing any structure which is considered “illegal”. In the meantime, Israeli settlements and outposts in the area, despite being illegal according to the international law, keep on expanding while the settlers continue to attack Palestinians without undergoing any legal consequence.

This policy of restrictions, closures, demolitions, evacuations and harassment, together with the ongoing violence by the Israeli settlers in the area, denies the Palestinian human rights, by hindering the villagers ability to cultivate their lands and by preventing the development of the local communities.

Despite this, the Palestinian communities of South Hebron Hills are strongly committed in claiming their rights and resisting the Israeli occupation in a nonviolent way.

Operation Dove and Christian Peacemaker Teams have maintained an international presence in At-Tuwani and the South Hebron Hills since 2004.

Pictures of the incident: