31 December 2008
AT-TUWANI: Israeli army fails to escort Palestinian school children twice in three days
[Note: According to the Geneva Conventions, the International Court of Justice in the Hague, and numerous United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal. Most settlement outposts are considered illegal under Israeli law.]
In the last three days the Israel army has twice failed to escort Palestinian children between their village of Tuba and their school in At-Tuwani in the South Hebron Hills of the West Bank.
After school on Monday, 29 December, the army began the escort. However, the soldiers accompanied the children only about 150 meters, stopping to chat with settlers and directing the children to continue alone most of the two km journey between the Israeli settlement of Maon and outpost of Havat Maon. On the morning of Wednesday, 31 December, the soldiers failed to arrive at all. Three children remained home in Tuba, and nine children walked unescorted along a longer (five km) route to school. This longer route avoids both the settlement and the outpost, although settlers did attack the children there four times in July 2008, while they were going to summer camp [See http://www.cpt.org/search/node/At-Tuwani+Summer+camp+2008]
The Israeli army has escorted these Palestinian children to and from school since September 2004 following a series of Israeli settler attacks upon them and their international accompaniers. This obligation was endorsed by the Israeli Knesset Committee on the Rights of the Child in November 2004.
These attacks have been a problem for years, and the implementation of an Israeli military escort has not solved it. In the 2007-08 academic year, settlers attacked the children a total of fourteen times, as documented in the report A Dangerous Journey: Settler Violence against Palestinian schoolchildren under Israeli Military Escort [http://cpt.org/files/Palestine-School-Accompaniment-Report-2006-2008-Dangerous-Journey.pdf]