January 2017

CURRENT SITUATION

In the South Hebron Hills 2017 did not start in the best way. It looked like the causes were distant, but developments were local. In December, UN’s decision to condemn Israeli settlements lit a little hope among the Palestinians, but in January the atmosphere changed dramatically with the arrival of the new US President, Donald Trump and the subsequent decision by Netanyahu to implement settlements in West Bank. Another fact that affected the area south of Hebron was the attack in Jerusalem on January 8. In the days following such attack the military escort for the school patrol was often hours late, or did not come at all, because was busy in controls and checkpoints.
At the same time road demolitions, attacks against International and Israeli activists by settlers, deliveries of stop working orders in the villages near Firing Zone and damage of Palestinian land by settlers kept going on.

SHARING, WORK AND NEWS ABOUT VOLUNTEERS

Operazione Colomba volunteers had to deal with the direct violence of some settlers when, on January 7, were attacked by masked people from the outpost of Havat Ma’on. Stone-throwing, kicking, shoving and pressure only for having accompanied a Palestinian farmer to plow on his own land. The violence of the occupation has also been reflected in the daily violation of international law and human rights. For example, from January the sewer system of Karmel settlement started operating, pouring directly on the cultivated fields of the Palestinian village of Umm al Kheir. The volunteers, together with the villagers, documented and publicly denounced the fact.
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As it regards the school, January midterm break was anticipated by a stop in the school patrol: volunteers had to escort the children through long and dangerous paths to get to the villages of Tuba and Maghayir al Abeed. All this because Israeli soldiers on duty did not show up, endangering the lives of children, exposed to attacks by settlers.
Many demolitions took place, such as the agricultural road linking Yatta to Bani Na’im, or the stop working orders delivered to the families of the village of Tuba. But the Palestinian peaceful response did not lack: in At-Tuwani a tent was built for the children of Tuba, a place to wait for the school patrol, despite the pressure and threats by the soldiers, by the Israeli Civil Administration and by Ma’on settlers. Volunteers guarded the area together with Palestinian families until night to make sure that the tent was not destroyed by the settlers. In At-Tuwani, volunteers contributed to the planting of a hundred olive trees confronting with daily visits and threats by soldiers and settlers. The rain eventually watered the new trees and wet the valleys, making them ready to welcome shepherds and flocks of sheep.