The festival was just beginning when the team received a call that the Israeli military had set up a checkpoint on the road to Tuwani, stopping anyone except Palestinians from At-Tuwani from entering the village. We discovered later that this was one of at least three checkpoints preventing people from entering the area. The military also declared the area a closed military zone until mid-afternoon (when the festival was scheduled to end.)
Needless to say, no media managed to come to the press conference.
Nevertheless, the Palestinian villagers continued with their festival. There was music, dancing, and a skit about life in Tuwani. People were clapping and laughing, and I have never seen such beautiful debka dancing, in spite of the military’s efforts to hinder the festival from going forward.
I am dumbfounded by the Israeli military and amazed and inspired by the Palestinians here in the South Hebron Hills. The event on Sunday was not a demonstration; yet the military was intent on preventing people from coming. The villagers here are committed to nonviolence, and they are courageous and steadfast – and the military knows it. There is nothing more dangerous to a violent regime than nonviolence and declaring the truth.
The villagers know this, and they were not going to allow the military to hinder their celebration or break their spirits – they went ahead with it anyway and had a mighty fun festival, living out the hope that someday their nonviolence will prevail.
And that, my friends, is far more powerful than any checkpoint or closed military zone.