January 6, 2015
At-Tuwani – South Hebron Hills, West Bank
During the last school-week, the Israeli military escort failed three times in accompanying the schoolchildren from the South Hebron hills villages of Tuba and Maghayir Al Abeed.
In order to reach the school of At-Tuwani, the Palestinian children, aged between 6 and 17 years, usually walk, accompanied by an Israeli military escort, through the shortest route (about 20 minutes) that passes between the Israeli settlement of Ma’on and the outpost of Havat Ma’on (Hill 833). This route is the main road linking their villages and At-Tuwani and it is dangerous for the children since they frequently suffer from the attacks and harassment of the settlers.
On January 4, the schoolchildren waited for the escort until 7:53 a.m. but the soldiers didn’t show up. The children had to attend an exam at 8:00 so, in order to not lose additional time, chose to go through an other longer path, in which they were attacked several times in the past. International volunteers accompanied them in place of the Israeli soldiers.
On December 31, the children arrived at the designated escort meeting place at 10.30 am in order to be accompanied from At Tuwani to Tuba, but the Israeli military escort wasn’t there. The children waited in the winter morning for the army until 11.45 a.m. The children chose to go through the very dangerous shortest route between Ma’on settlement and Havat Ma’on outpost without any escort.
On December 28, the schoolchildren arrived at the designated escort meeting place at 11.08 am, but the army wasn’t there. The children waited for the army until 11.45 am. After that the children chose to go home through an other longer path, but not less dangerous, accompanied by International volunteers in place of the Israeli escort.
In this half school year (from 24 August 2014 to 4 January 2015) Operation Dove volunteers, who monitor the Israeli military escort, collected the following data: on a total of 170 cases, six times the children were not escorted on their trip from and to school. In contravention of the protective mandate of the escort, in this half school year on 98,53% of the cases (on 136 of 170 recorded cases in which the volunteers monitored the military escort) the Israeli soldiers failed to fully complete the escort, not walking until the end of the settlement. Furthermore in this period on 23% of the cases the escort refused to walk with the children, as establish the agreement between the DCO and At-Tuwani major. On 49,4% of the mornings, the children were late to school by more than 5 minutes due to escort delay. The children lost 9 hours because of late or missing military escorts. On 54,1% of their school days, the children had to wait more than 5 minutes after school for the military escort. In the afternoons, the children waited it a total of 22 hours.
Operation Dove has maintained an international presence in At-Tuwani and South Hebron Hills since 2004.
[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.]