AT-TUWANI UPDATE: 1-13 March 2006
25 March 2006
AT-TUWANI UPDATE: 1-13 March 2006
Wednesday, 01 March
In the morning, Sarah MacDonald and a member from Operation Dove (a Dove)
observed the police escort for the schoolchildren from the village of Tuba.
The police arrived twenty-five minutes early and one of the officers scolded
the children for not being ready to leave. The officers would not listen to
the internationals when they tried to explain what time the escort begins.
In the morning while accompanying Palestinian shepherds, Matt Chandler and a
Dove observed a settler from Havot Ma'on (Hill 833) grazing his goats on
Palestinian land. After a few hours, he and his goats returned to the
Thursday, 02 March
In the afternoon, the team accompanied shepherds on a hillside outside
At-Tuwani, near the Israeli settlement of Ma'on. Around 2:00 p.m., two
settlers chased some shepherds off the hillside. Shortly thereafter, a
member of the Ma'on settlement security arrived, followed less than ten
minutes later by the Israeli army. Israeli soldiers and settlement security
ordered the shepherds to leave the area until an officer from the District
Coordination Office (DCO) could arrive and determine if the shepherds had
the right to be present on the land. Chandler asked an army lieutenant to
stop the settlement security guard from forcing shepherds off the land,
citing the legal restrictions on the settlement security's authority. The
lieutenant refused, saying, "He is doing my job for me."
At 4:30 p.m., an officer from the DCO arrived and declared the area open for
Palestinians to graze. The Israeli police arrived at the same time as the
DCO. The Ma'on security guard requested that they arrest Chandler and Diana
Zimmerman for trespassing. The police refused to do so without a map showing
the boundaries of the settlement. The settlement security guard did not
produce one, so the police left.
Friday, 03 March
In the morning, Chandler, MacDonald, Zimmerman and a member of Operation
Dove accompanied shepherds on the same hillside as the previous day.
While they were on the hillside, representatives from an international aid
organization visiting in the area stopped to talk with the team. During the
conversation, a Ma'on security guard confronted the group, verbally berating
them for taking pictures and threatening to physically harm CPT, Operation
Dove and the members of the aid organization. The security guard told them,
"All the problems in this area are caused by the internationals. We got
along fine with the Palestinians until these people arrived." Shortly
thereafter, the settler security officer strode away from the group.
In the afternoon, the Israeli army set up a checkpoint along the road to
Karmil, the closest town to At Tuwani. As MacDonald and Zimmerman
approached the site, the soldiers returned to their jeep and drove away.
Saturday, 04 March
The team, along with At-Tuwani shepherds returned to the same hillside where
they had grazed their sheep the two previous days. Around 10:00 a.m., a
group of boys came out of the Ma'on settlement and walked down the hill
toward the shepherds. The shepherds withdrew a bit to avoid a confrontation.
Shortly afterwards a man came out of the settlement and walked toward the
shepherds. He approached a woman from the village and began telling her to
leave the land.
Within ten minutes, several army vehicles and a Ma'on settlement security
guard arrived. A soldier asked Zimmerman to tell the Palestinians to leave
until the DCO arrived. She refused. Another soldier had a conversation
with Chandler and Zimmerman arguing that it was better for the Palestinians
to leave so there would not be a problem.
When the officer from the DCO arrived, he again stated that the land was
open for the Palestinians to use. The settlers who were present slowly
walked back to the settlement during the interchange. The Palestinians
finished grazing for the day then returned to At-Tuwani.
Sunday 05 March
The team accompanied shepherds in the same area as the previous days without
incident. A settlement security vehicle drove by the group several times
but did not stop.
Monday 06 March
On their way to Khoruba hill, the area outside At Tuwani from which the
internationals observe part of the schoolchildren's escort, MacDonald and a
Dove encountered three settlers walking around on the hills. They said they
were looking for five lost lambs. After a brief conversation, the settlers
headed back toward Hill 833. Later in the day, a Palestinian shepherd from
Mufakara found the lambs and returned them to the settlers.
In the afternoon schoolchildren's escort was delayed because the soldiers
were helping some Israeli men catch a loose cow and calf. The cattle
appeared to have escaped from a vehicle that was driving along Route 317.
The soldiers and Israelis were able to chase down the cow but the calf kept
eluding them. Boys from the village of At-Tuwani eventually caught the calf
and returned it to the owner. Afterwards the army escorted the children
Wednesday, 08 March
International Women's Day. - No School
Laurie Hadden and Chandler along with two Doves accompanied shepherds
grazing their flocks in Khoruba valley. A Ma'on settlement security guard
and a few Israeli soldiers observed the scene but did not interfere.
Saturday, 11 March
At 4:00 a.m. the team received news that CPT member Tom Fox's body had been
found near the Baghdad airport. He had gone missing since 29 November 2005
along with three other CPT members.
In the morning, Chandler, Zimmerman and Hadden traveled to the nearby
village of Tuba after receiving word that there were problems with settlers.
When they arrived the settlers were gone and the police arrived to take
statements from the shepherds.
The three CPTers quickly returned to At-Tuwani after receiving word from two
Doves that settlers were approaching the Palestinian shepherds. Eight
settlers walked out of Hill 833 toward the shepherds grazing their flocks in
Khoruba and Humra, valleys south of At-Tuwani. Minutes later the army
arrived and began asking the Palestinians to leave. According to the
Palestinians, when the three members of CPT arrived along with two members
of another international aid organization, the soldiers began asking the
settlers to leave. Eventually all the settlers returned to the outpost and
the shepherds cont