South Hebron Hills Popular Committee member arrested during nonviolent action in Khelly Valley, At-Tuwani, Southern Hebron Hills
At-Tuwani – On April 6, Border Police officers and army soldiers arrested a member of the nonviolent South Hebron Hills Popular Committee, while he was harvesting on his private owned land in Khelly Valley, nearby the village of At-Tuwani, during a nonviolent action.
The goal of this action was to affirm the right of the Palestinians to enter their land despite the Israeli Military Administration restrictions, which until today do not have any legal support.
Since 9:00 am the soldiers and the Border Police, in coordination with Ma’on security chief, prevented the Palestinian shepherds from grazing their flocks down in Khelly Valley. An old woman and his nephew were stopped as well while trying to reach the valley.
Around 11:20 a.m. some women and children from At-Tuwani went down in the valley to harvest, challenging the imposed restriction. The Popular Committee member reached them and started to work as well. A few minutes later the army declared the valley a “closed military area” but the Palestinians refused to leave, claiming their right to work their private land. This was the reason for the soldiers to arrest the only man who was attending the resistance action. At 11:30 am he was taken to the Border Police jeep and detained there for about two hours. The women and the children kept on gathering grass in the valley in spite of the soldiers’ threats and pressures (i.e. a soldier ran after a child). The nonviolent action ended at around 12:00 a.m.. Some hours later the activists of Ta’ayush were informed about the fact that the Palestinian had been taken to Kiryat Arba police station. At 6:00 p.m. he was released under the payment of 1.000NIS.
Palestinians have been facing problems in Khelly since 2004, when around one hundred cherry trees were planted by the settlers on part of the valley nearby Ma’on. Since then the Israeli administration has been confiscating Palestinian land step by step in order to annex it to Ma’on. At the end of 2011 Khelly Hill was declared “State Land” and some residential buildings were built on it. Some months later, in March 2012, a paved street was created in front of the new houses. Starting from those expansion works the Palestinian shepherds were definitely prevented from entering the area of Khelly Hill. Since January 2013 until now the shepherds were also prevented from using Khelly Valley. In the last month the shepherds were chased away 10 times by soldiers and police and 4 times by settlers.
Nevertheless the Palestinian community of South Hebron Hills area continue to resist the occupation using the nonviolent struggle.
Operation Dove maintains a constant presence in At-Tuwani and South Hebron hills area since 2004.