Incidents at At-Tuwani

June 1, 2020

Time for harvesting the grain…” (a line from a popular Zionist song we all sang here as kids) For our Palestinian friends At-Tuwani village (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At-Tuwani) in the South Hebron Hills it is no old favorite, but a source of livelihood. These very days they are supposed to go out to their fields and harvest the wheat that has ripened, which will feed them the whole year round.

A single dirt track connects At-Tuwani and its fields, and normally also serves the schoolchildren of the neighboring villages (Massafer Yatta area) who walk to school. The children have been accompanied by international activists, the just of our times, who make sure the children will arrive at school safely in spite of the constant harassing by the Jewish settler-colonists from the nearby outpost of Havat Maon.

Two days ago the villagers of At-Tuwani discovered that right on the track, only 150 meters from the village houses, the settler-colonists erected a tent. Simply blocking the way. If you wonder how a track can be blocked by a tent, we should explain that the Havat Maon settler-colonists are the worst kind of pogromchiks – violent hooligans –the kind whose brutality our great-great-grandparents had known in the Diaspora.  They very often enter the village itself, go wild breaking things, destroying property and farm equipment, and make the lives of the inhabitants insufferable.  They do this while the men are away at work, and only the women and children are present, and they simply sow terror. Whoever comes close to their tent would risk his life – at gunpoint. Later we shall read in the paper that “another terrorist who was trying to murder Jewish colonists was shot and neutralized”.

The villagers complained to the Civil Administration (the army arm responsible for all Palestinian civil matters) – by means of the wonderful attorney Kamar Mashraki of the Hakel organization. As a response, a caravan was placed on the track as well… An answer has not yet come from the Civil Administration, but Israeli soldiers have already been seen sipping coffee with the settler-colonists.

If we fail to remove the tent, it will become another illegal but irremovable outpost, like dozens of other metastases of the settler-colony cancer.  At-Tuwani is a village officially recognized by the occupation authorities, and the settler-colonists cannot do as they please there. So they attempt to suffocate it by blocking its access tracks.

The occupation knee is pressing on At-Tuwani’s throat, trying to choke the villagers. The international activists who volunteer there have been distanced form the area by order of the Palestinian Authority because of the Corona-virus pandemic, and Israeli human rights activists come less at this time – so who will help?

June 9, 2020

A week ago we reported another provocation of the criminal colony Havat Maon, aiming to deny the villagers of At-Tuwani access to their fields to harvest their wheat, and put simply: starve them.

Following an appeal to the Civil Administration, they were promised that the tent and caravan blocking the way would be removed. Naturally the settler-colonists are still there, barbecuing with the soldiers, and naturally the protest tent erected by the Palestinians was dismantled. This is the law in the South Hebron Hills.

But there are good news as well: on Wednesday night, Israeli army forces along with the DCO and several settler-colonists (they are intermixed – the colonists wear army uniforms and threaten with guns, what difference does it make?) in order to confiscated several tractors on false claims that even the Civil Administration has a hard time explaining, some garbage-throwing story or other. One should understand that such a confiscation, arbitrary and unfounded as it may be, might last a long time – and how are the farmers going to till their fields in the meantime?

But this time the villagers were ready. Usually oppression relies on the difficulty of villagers to organize and act together, whether because it is a family-based society, or because their villages have undergone demolition and they are forced to live on their lands at a great distance from each other.

The At-Tuwani villagers realized that only solidarity and an immediate mobilization of the entire community would save their property. Well-rehearsed, all the village men came and created a human wall around the tractors. At the end of a more than 4-hour struggle, the army retreated and the tractors were saved. For the time being.

We have no words to describe the courage of a handful of villagers equipped only with cell phones, facing soldiers armed from head to toe and escorted by violent settler-colonists.

So whoever was deeply bothered at the recent anti-annexation demonstration in the heart of Tel Aviv by Palestinian citizens of Israel singing the Palestinian anthem Biladi Biladi (My land, yours is my love, my heart) – go for it…

June 18, 2020

Two weeks ago we wrote you about the harassment by Jewish settler-colonists from the Havat Maon outpost (aided by the Israeli army, of course) of the Palestinian village of A-Tawane in the South Hebron Hills. We wrote how the colonist thugs erected a tent and placed a caravan on the track leading to the village fields in order to prevent the farmers from harvesting their crops, starve their families and make their lives unbearable – so they would finally leave their village.

The tent was unmanned for some days, and this morning attorney Kamar Mashraki of Hakel who represents the villagers informed us that the Civil Administration announced the tent would be dismantled, and indeed it was. But we knew it was too early to celebrate.

One hour after the dismantling of the tent and the caravan at the initiative of the settler-colonists themselves, Israeli soldiers showed up holding a demolition order for a structure that serves as a sheep pen in the unbearable heat of summer, and for a nearby well. The experienced villagers showed non-violent resistance, as violence would have resulted in arrests, additional destruction and beatings – but to no avail. With the aid of stun grenades, the soldiers did their job.

Once more we see how the army, the Civil Administration and the courts work together at the bidding of the settler-colonists.  They place an illegal, superfluous structure on Palestinian-owned land, “agree” to remove it – and in return, demand a heavy price paid by the Palestinians. We have already seen in the past how Palestinians fear complaining about incursions into their land, for if their complaint is taken seriously and acted upon, they will eventually pay a heavy “price tag”.

This week temperatures in the South Hebron Hills have already reached 33 degrees centigrade. The sheep will have to survive it without any shade or water. Thanks to the Israeli army and the Civil Administration.

Yair Ron, on behalf of the Villages Group

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