About this Blog

"Ordinary People" is something of an intentional misnomer. I live and work with Palestinians practicing nonviolent resistance to the Israeli occupation. They are doing things that are hardly "ordinary": committing themselves to active nonviolence and to loving their enemies -- following the commands of One who was anything but ordinary. And yet, the Palestinians with whom I work are also very ordinary -- they are not some kind of spiritual superheroes/superheroines who do things most folks can't do. They are simply ordinary people daily committing themselves to living a higher calling -- a calling of love and active nonviolence.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

AT-TUWANI URGENT ACTION: Contact Israeli military regarding failure of soldiers to protect schoolchildren from settler attack.

[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 (OPT) are illegal. Most settlement outposts are considered illegal under Israeli law.]

The school year in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) for 2009-2010 began on Tuesday 1 September. The school children, who walk from the nearby villages of Tuba and Maghayir-al-Abeed to At-Tuwani's elementary school, continue to require a military escort in order to ensure their safety. On every day during the first three weeks of this new school year, the Israeli army has failed to complete the escort as agreed in 2004, leaving the children to walk alone in an area where they have been attacked by Israeli settlers. Instead, they complete only a little over half the distance of the escort.

Of the twenty-six journeys to and from school, soldiers have only walked with the children on six journeys, the other journeys they have remained in their vehicle. The soldiers have never completed the escort by escorting the children to and from the end of the Ma'on chicken barns. Remaining in their vehicle and not completing the escort leaves the children vulnerable to settler attacks and harassment. On one third of the journeys, the army escort has been late, resulting in the children being late for school or having to endure a long wait after school.

The shortest route to school for the Tuba and Maghayir al Abeed children is a public road that passes between the Israeli settlement of Ma'on and the outpost of Havat Ma'on. For years, armed Israeli settlers have attacked, threatened, and harassed the children along this road. In 2004, the Israeli District Coordinating Office (the branch of the Israeli military that deals with civilian matters) agreed to provide the children with an armed escort. The Israeli Knesset (parliament) Committee for Children's Rights endorsed the agreement.


The team now requests that concerned people make calls to the Communications office of the Southern District Commander of the Israeli Military, phone number (+ 972) 2 996 7200. * Request that Commander Ben Moha instruct the soldiers who perform the escort of the Tuba and Maghayir-al-Abeed school children to accompany the children all the way to the end of the Ma'on chicken barns and past any settlers present. Stress that this protection is particularly necessary because of the repeated presence of settlers in this area at the time of the children's walk home. Remind the commander that settlers used violence against the school children on ten occasions in the 2008-09 school year and that already during this school year a settler has threatened the children in the area of the Ma'on chicken barns.

If you have difficulty reaching Commander Ben Moha's office, try the following numbers:

IDF Public Appeals Fax: +972-3-569-9400*

IDF Public Appeals Phone: +972-3-569-1000*

In addition to phone calls, the team asks that people send the Israeli military's Public Appeals office a simple message by clicking on this link: http://dover.idf.il/IDF/English/Contact+US/ Please include Commander Ben Moha's name in the subject line.

Sample message (no more than 75 words):

Subject: Request to Commander Ben Moha

Palestinian school children from Tuba and Maghayir-al-Abeed must walk past militant settlers from Ma'on and Havat Ma'on to attend school in At-Tuwani. The Knesset recommended in 2004 that the IDF escort these children. In order to ensure the children's safety, soldiers must accompany them all the way past the Ma'on chicken barns and past any settlers present. Currently soldiers are not escorting the children far enough to ensure their safety.


• This school year, the children have been late for school on three mornings out of thirteen.

• This school year, on nine of the thirteen school days, the children have had to wait after school for twenty minutes or more for the escort. On three days, they had to wait a little over half an hour, on two days forty-five minutes, and on one day nearly an hour.

• On the morning of Thursday 10 September 2009, the children had to wait twenty minutes at the Ma'on chicken barns because the army escort vehicle left the children to chase Palestinian shepherds from a nearby valley. The children were late for school.

• On the morning of Monday 7 September 2009, at the end of the Ma'on chicken barns, an Israeli settler came towards the children yelling at them. The children ran part way to school.

• During the 2008-2009 school year, settlers used violence against the children ten times; two of these times the settlers threw rocks at the children.

• For a complete report on the school escort in 2007-2008, including maps, photographs and interviews with the children, please see "A Dangerous Journey" at www.cpt.org/files/Dangerous-Journey-Summary-2008.pdf

•A report for the school year 2008-2009 will shortly be available.

*Please check your own country's dialing prefix for international calls.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Israeli military delivers demolition orders for six Palestinian houses


At Tuwani: Israeli Military Delivers Demolition Orders for Six Palestinian Houses
13 September 2009

[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. Settlement outposts are considered illegal also under Israeli law.]

In the afternoon of 13 September, members from the Israeli District Coordinating Office (DCO), accompanied by Israeli soldiers, delivered demolition orders for six Palestinian houses near the village of At-Tuwani.

The houses were recently built on privately-owned Palestinian land in Humra valley. On the night of 16 July, while some of the houses were still under construction, one building was destroyed and a nearby olive tree was damaged. The Palestinian family suspected the house had been destroyed by Israeli settlers from the nearby settlement Ma'on or the outpost Havat Ma'on. The family began rebuilding their house the next day.

On 20 July 2009 the Israeli military delivered stop work orders on the houses and two other structures, including a cistern. Now that demolition orders have been issued the families fear the Israeli military will soon destroy the houses.

The Israeli military severely restricts Palestinian building in the South Hebron Hills area, designated Area C under the Oslo Accords and under full Israeli control. However, the nearby Israeli settlements of Ma'on and Carmel and the outposts of Avigail and Havot Ma'on continue to expand. Members of Christian Peacemaker Teams and Operation Dove have documented continuous settlement expansion since 2004.

Photos from the day are available at: http://tinyurl.com/kkb4ez

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Israeli settlers build new caravans in Ma'on settlement


Israeli settlers build new caravans in Ma'on settlement
10 September 2009

At a time when the international community is calling for a freeze on new building in settlements and the disbanding of settlement outposts, the settler community of the South Hebron Hills is continuing its expansion unabated.

Israeli settlers from the illegal settlement on Ma'on, in the South Hebron Hills area, are constructing at least five new caravans on the south-west side of the settlement. Internationals based in the nearby Palestinian village of At Tuwani first observed building preparatory work in Ma'on a few days ago. Today, as the new caravans were being built, settlers began preparatory work on a nearby hilltop for further settlement expansion. Over the past three months, internationals have also observed settlers constructing numerous new buildings in the nearby illegal Israeli outposts of Havat Ma'on (Hill 833) and Avigail.

Since its establishment in 1981, Ma'on settlement has been a source of violence towards local Palestinians. The agricultural orchards of Ma'on are cultivated on private land belonging to a family from the nearby Palestinian village of At Tuwani. By 1997, ongoing settler violence forced the Palestinian inhabitants of three nearby villages (Sarura, Humra and Kharoubeh) to abandon their homes.

The original outpost of Havat Ma'on was established in July 1999, but was dismantled in September of that year by the Israeli military. The following year, the outpost was re-established on a nearby hilltop, Hill 833, and has remained and grown since then. Avigail outpost was established in 2001.

Settlers from Ma'on and Havat Ma'on attack and harass Palestinian children from Tuba and Maghayir al Abeed traveling to and from school in At Tuwani. In 2004, following two attacks on internationals accompanying the children, the Israeli Knesset Committee for Children's Rights affirmed the need for a military escort for the school children. The escort continues five years later. Settlers from Avigail and Havat Ma'on outposts also regularly attack Palestinian shepherds grazing their sheep.

For photos of new buildings in Ma'on go to: http://tinyurl.com/mj9fmw

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Exhibit A: Israeli Settlers Throw Stones at Palestinian Shepherds

Sometimes the Israeli occupation of Palestine is simply too difficult for me to capture in words. So I develop a (two month!) long writing block, trying to decide on what to say and how to communicate well to those far away. Recently my team posted a new video on YouTube, documenting Israeli settlers throwing stones at Palestinian shepherds.

So, this is one example of what a settler attack looks like:

People around the world can watch a settler attack on Palestinian shepherds. This video shows the images. What the video cannot capture the daily hardship, the act of being repeatedly pushed off one's land. It does not demonstrate the fear, the uncertainty of what will happen next when settlers appear: they may simply yell and shout or they may shoot at the shepherds' flock. Or they may throw stones and injure people or sheep.

The video also cannot capture the courage and endurance of the Palestinian community here in the South Hebron Hills: the daily nonviolent resistance, the commitment to remain on one's land no matter what the cost.

Friday, July 3, 2009

More from I Saw it in Palestine: Top Ten Reasons Ma'on and Havot Ma'on Have Got to Go

Reason Number Three: Settlers Harass and Attack Palestinians on a Daily Basis
The settlers of Havot Ma’on and Ma’on are waging a campaign of intimidation and violence aimed at driving Palestinians off of their land. In addition to attacking school children, settlers have insulted and threatened Palestinian farmers, as well as throwing stones, beating, and shooting them. This violence makes the daily tasks of living – everything from agricultural work to walking home through the hills – dangerous and terrifying for Palestinians. Here is an incomplete list of acts of violence settlers have perpetrated against Palestinians over the last two years...
Read the whole article here.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A picture is worth a thousand words

Take this one, for example:

I started seeing these posters -- outside Jerusalem, near the Israeli settlements of Ma'on and Efrata (near Bethlehem) -- around the time of President Obama's Cairo speech.

I find this most disheartening primarily because Obama has not called for radical actions from Israel. He has asked that Israel stop settlement growth. No mention of dismantling settlements, the final status of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees' right of return, an end to the occupation, etc.

If Obama is an "anti-semitic Jew-hater" now, what are ordinary people who call for actions that will promote a real peace with justice?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

AT-TUWANI: Israeli Police Detain Palestinian Children While Grazing Sheep

[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. Settlement outposts are considered illegal also under Israeli law.]

On the morning of June 25, Israeli police detained two Palestinian children, aged 15 and 16, near the village of Tuba. The boys, accompanied by internationals, were grazing their flocks near their village of Tuba, located in the South Hebron Hills.

Israeli settlers from the illegal outpost, Havat Ma’on, observed the boys for sometime before the Israeli military arrived. The Israeli military jeep drove to a home within Havat Ma’on and the soldiers spoke with the settlers. After speaking with the settlers, the soldiers approached the boys and the internationals demanding that they provide personal identification, saying that the boys were in a forbidden area.

The Israeli police arrived at the scene and, after conferencing with the settlers and soldiers, detained the two boys at 10:00AM and took them to the Kiryat Arba police station. The police refused to provide a reason for the detention of the boys.

The Palestinian boys were held in detention at Kiryat Arba Police Station for nearly five hours before being released. Responding to the detention, one of the boys’ fathers said, “they weren’t doing anything, they graze their sheep there everyday.”


Blogger's note: Stay tuned. More on this later.