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The month of January 2017 saw the approval of a massive construction program of new settlement homes, in clear opposition of December’s UN security council resolution, which described settlement building as a “flagrant violation” of international law and an obstacle to peace. Israeli authorities announced the plan to build almost 600 new houses in occupied East Jerusalem and other 2,500 in the West Bank, the possibility of annexing Ma’ale Adumim settlement, and the willingness to give the Palestinians “not exactly a state with full authority, rather a state minus”.
In the South Hebron Hills area Operation Dove volunteers recorded a wide range of human rights violations against Palestinians carried out by both Israeli forces and Israeli settlers.
On January 7, a group of Israeli settlers from the illegal Israeli outpost of Havat Ma’on attacked Operation Dove volunteers and Israeli activists while they were coming back to the Palestinian village of At Tuwani, after they had accompanied Palestinian farmers who were plowing their land.
Masked settlers beat up one Operation Dove volunteer and one activist, threw stones at the group, and stole one camera.
On January 11, Israeli Army and Israeli Civil Administration (DCO) blocked and destroyed part of the agricultural road that links the two Palestinian towns of Bani Na’im and Yatta in the Hebron governorate.
Israeli civil administration officers continued to patrol the area throughout the month, taking pictures of alleged new Palestinian constructions and delivering stop working and demolition orders in Tuba village. During this time Israeli forces made no efforts to stop the illegal expansion of Israeli settlements and outposts in the area. On the first of January 2017 the Israeli settlement of Karmel began using a new sewer pipe, which now poisons Palestinian farmland and olive trees in the village of Umm Al Kheir.
After the deadly truck ramming attack in Jerusalem on January 8, residents of the South Hebron Hills felt the impact of retaliatory collective punishment by Israeli forces in the area. In particular, school children from the villages of Tuba and Maghaiyr Al Abeed, who make the daily trip to and from school past the illegal Israeli outpost of Havat Ma’on with an Israeli military escort, were subjected to increased risk of settler violence and also missed portions of their school days due to the absence and lateness of the military escort. On some days the children were forced to take a longer path, which is also dangerous, when soldiers did not arrive. Soldiers claimed that their failure to escort the children reliably was due to increased military operations, trainings and checkpoints January 23, to support the right to education of Palestinian school children, the South Hebron Hills popular committee built a tent to protect the children from the rain and the cold while they are waiting the soldiers. In response to this action to protect the dignity of the children Israeli soldiers immediately threatened the destruction of the tent.