AT-TUWANI: Israeli military violates Knesset order to escort Palestinian children to school

CPTnet
28 December 2005

AT-TUWANI: Israeli military violates Knesset order to escort Palestinian
children to school

On the morning of 26 December, CPTer Diana Zimmerman and a member of
Operation Dove waited in At-Tuwani for one hour for the military escort to
arrive with the children from Tuba. In repeated calls to the military
headquarters, the operator kept telling the internationals that the
soldiers would be there in five minutes.

An Israeli Knesset ruling from October 2004 requires that the Israeli
military or police accompany the Palestinian schoolchildren from Tuba to
and from school in At-Tuwani. The escort is required because the children
must pass the Israeli settlement of Ma'on and the Havot Ma'on (Hill 833)
outpost; settlers have harassed and attacked the children as they walked
on the road. CPTers and members of Operation Dove monitor the escort and
report any problems that occur.

At 8:45 a.m., the internationals decided to go meet the children and walk
them to At-Tuwani, first calling the military headquarters to inform them
of the intended action. Soon afterwards, three soldiers walked out of
Ma'on, came down the road towards the internationals and asked where the
children were. After giving directions to the soldiers, the internationals
waited for twenty minutes before calling the father of the children.

The father said that the soldiers came to the area where the children were
waiting, but didn't collect the children. Zimmerman and the Dove then
proceeded to walk to Tuba to meet the children. Diane Janzen and Christy
Bishoff watched from the At-Tuwani end of the path.

The internationals walked back to At-Tuwani with the children and as they
came to the edge of the outpost, a Ma'on settler security guard drove
quickly towards them in his truck. He was very angry, telling the
internationals that they were not permitted to be on the road. He told
them, "If you take the children this way there will never be an escort
again." He also shouted at the children in Hebrew, frightening them.

  The internationals and children walked past the settler security truck
and continued to At-Tuwani. As the group neared the gate where Janzen and
Bishoff were waiting, the settler security truck returned and two men in
partial military uniform stepped out of the truck. The children continued
walking to school with Bischoff, arriving at school at 10:00 a.m., two hours
late.

Meanwhile the two "soldiers" demanded to see the ID's of Zimmerman and the
Dove and told them they had to wait for the escort to arrive. The settler
security truck left and returned with three more soldiers; these were in
full military uniform. One of the soldiers said, "I have to follow my
orders, if the orders I'm given are illegal then you must talk to my
commander, but I must do as I'm told. My orders say that the Palestinian
children may only walk here with the soldiers, you may walk here whenever
you want, but not with the children." When asked why the military escort
did not arrive, he said, "I do not know."

See the school patrol photo album found at:
http://www.cpt.org/gallery/view_album.php?set_albumName=tuwani_school_patrol

for photos added from recent school patrols.