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, November 6, 2008

Report, "A Dangerous Journey: Settler violence against Palestinian schoolchildren under Israeli military escort"

15 October 2008
AT-TUWANI: Report, "A Dangerous Journey: Settler violence against Palestinian schoolchildren under Israeli military escort" by Christian Peacemaker Teams and Operation Dove now available

"The beginning was worse, but after today it seems harder than the beginning. The settlers are still beating our children." Mother of South Hebron Hills student after settlers stoned children on 27 July 2008 and inflicted head wound requiring hospitalization on CPTer accompanying them.

A new report by Christian Peacemaker Teams and Operation Dove about the Israeli military escort of Palestinian children to school in At-Tuwani during the 2007-2008 school year records a catalogue of violent settler attacks on the children and the Israeli military's complacent attitude regarding these attacks.

The military escort began in the fall of 2004, following attacks by settlers on the schoolchildren and internationals accompanying them on the public road that passes between Ma'on settlement and Hill 833 (Havat Ma'on) settler outpost. In November 2004, Israeli Knesset Committee for Children's Rights affirmed the initial verbal agreement for military accompaniment of the children between the At-Tuwani mayor and the Israeli District Coordinating Office (DCO), the section of the army that coordinates civilian affairs in the Occupied Palestinian

The report "A Dangerous Journey: Settler violence against Palestinian schoolchildren under Israeli military escort" describes the daily journey of the children from the villages of Tuba and Maghaer al-Abeed to and from their school in At-Tuwani under Israeli military escort. It highlights how settler threats and violence during the journey undermine the children's safety and documents the Israeli military's violations of its legal obligations to ensure the children's safe passage and right to education.

A comparison of the data collected during the 2007-08 school year and the 2006-07 school year shows a constant level of settler violence against the schoolchildren for these two years. Data also confirm that in the 2007-2008 school year the tardiness of the army caused the children to miss 25.32 hours of classes, compared to 10.47 hours in the previous school year.

During the first two months of the 2008-2009 school year, the children made sixty-eight journeys to and from school. On fourteen of these sixty-eight occasions (21% of journeys) the children had to wait, either before or after school, for over half-an-hour for the Israeli military escort to arrive. On four of these occasions, the children had to wait for over an hour, and one morning had to wait for one hour and forty minutes for the escort to arrive.

The report concludes, "Nearly four years after the Israeli military's agreement to provide an escort, and the affirmation of this agreement by the Knesset Committee for Children's Rights, the situation of the children … has worsened. The children continue to be harassed and attacked by Israeli settlers … The Israeli military, which was given a mandate to ensure the safety of the children, has consistently failed to do so."

The report is available at:
and contains maps of the region and of the routes the children take to school. It is illustrated with photos of the children, settlers, and significant locations the children pass on their journey to school.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

AT-TUWANI URGENT ACTION: Ask Israeli authorities why the Israeli military demolished homes in Um al Kher, South Hebron Hills

Please see the following Urgent Action, and respond: contact the authorities listed below. The demolition of Palestinian homes is inexcusable any time of the year, but at the beginning of the cold, rainy winter season is nothing other than a human rights abuse.

30 October 2008
AT-TUWANI URGENT ACTION: Ask Israeli authorities why the Israeli military demolished homes in Um al Kher, South Hebron Hills

[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.]

At 9:10 a.m. on the morning of Wednesday 29 October 2008, the Israeli military demolished ten Palestinian dwellings in the South Hebron Hills village of Um al Kher, leaving around sixty people, including young children, homeless.

The military arrived without warning shortly after 9:00 a.m. Soldiers gave the villagers little time to remove their possessions before demolishing four stone homes and six metal dwellings with a bulldozer. Um al Kher is situated close to the Israeli settlement of Karmel and the demolished homes were those closest to the settlement.

Palestinians and internationals from At-Tuwani attempted to reach Um al Kher in order to prevent or at least witness the demolitions. The Israeli military stopped their vehicle on Route 317, and told them the area was a closed military zone. However, Israeli vehicles were allowed to travel freely in both directions.

By 11:00 a.m., the military finished its destruction of the homes. At 11:40 villagers rushed to move their possessions into the cover of their friends tented homes when a heavy downpour of rain began.

A villager told CPTers, "The children are not here, they were frightened and ran away." Another villager, a twenty-one-year-old woman with a social work degree told how relieved she was that her mother had been out with the goats when the soldiers came so she did not have to witness the demolition of their home. The young woman had complained to an Israeli military officer that a soldier threatened to hit her. The officer's response was, "If he went to hit you that's
nice. If he hit you, it's very nice."

A young mother, holding her baby as she sat outside a neighbour's tent, told CPTers, "My baby in rain. Where my baby sleep?"

Within an hour of the army's departure, assistance arrived in the form of CARE International, International Committee of the Red Cross and United Nations Works and Relief Agency (UNRWA). UNRWA will supply blankets and kitchen utensils. At present, the villagers know of no organization able to help them rebuild their homes.


The Israeli military demolished these homes in violation of article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory. We urge you to write to the Israeli Embassy or Consulate in your home country, reminding the diplomatic staff of this fact, and demanding that the authorities answer the following questions:

· Why did the Israeli military demolish these homes?
· Why did the military choose to demolish them at the start of the winter rain season?
· Where will the young woman's baby and the other villagers sleep?

Contact information for embassies and consulates

Photos of the demolished homes can be viewed at

Letter writers are encouraged to share these photos with the embassies/consulates they contact.