January 2020

CURRENT SITUATION

On January 4th American President Donald Trump ordered an attack in Iraq which caused the death of one of the most powerful men in the Gulf, Qassem Soleimani, military commander of the Al-Quds special unit (Iranian military force). Soleimani’s death might mark the beginning of harsh tensions in the Middle East, it is feared that Iran might attack Israel as an act of retaliation.
Since the beginning of 2020, the Israeli army has continued arrest campaigns against Palestinian people. 200 people have been arrested, among which 21 children and 7 women, 1 pregnant. In addition to that, some Palestinian guys were killed after crossing the boundary in the central part of the Gaza Strip.
Moreover, there are 150 displaced people in Area C and East Jerusalem, and it is reported that Israeli army have forced some families to demolish their own house.

On January 28th the “Deal of the Century” has been announced, a peace plan for the Middle East promoted by US President Donald Trump. The Deal has been defined as a “step for peace” which Tel Aviv is now ready to take, and as “the most realistic” solution for the two States. The Deal was presented as a suggestion for both Israel and Palestine, but it is not in fact a proper agreement, since it is the “most generous” offer which has ever been made to Israel because it recognizes Israeli settlements and annexes the Jordan Valley (an agricultural area which constitutes 30% of the West Bank). Furthermore, the Deal officially recognizes Jerusalem, a holy city for the Muslims too, as the capital of Israel.
The Deal has already been approved by the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, and by his political opponent, Benny Gantz, but it has been harshly contested by Palestinians, who have organised protests and meetings in Gaza, Ramallah, and other cities, in what has become known as the “day of rage” against the American proposal. In particular, on January 30th the Israeli army injured about 20 protesters in Ramallah, Hebron, Kafr Qaddum and Jericho.
Abu Mazen, President of the Palestinian National Authority, rejected a copy of the 50-pages American plan and urgently summoned the League of Arab States.

SHARING, WORK AND NEWS ABOUT VOLUNTEERS

In midwinter the temperatures here on Hebron hills are very low, the wind is strong and rain is incessant, which helps the vegetation to grow. Nothing, however, can stop the Palestinians in At-Tuwani: as soon as there was a sunny day, January 3rd, they organized an important nonviolent act. After 15 years, they went back to the precious Ein al-Beida spring (it was inaccessible before due to Israeli outposts and settlements). Approximately 100 people (among which Palestinian, Israeli and international men and women) reached the spring, where Palestinian families led their donkeys, too, in order to get water and transport it. Someone then started to plant olive trees as a sign of land’s repossession. The following day, some Israeli settlers removed the olive trees and the signs left by the Palestinians the previous day.
This month, the settlers from the illegal outpost in Havat Ma’on have repeatedly provoked the Palestinan inhabitants from the villages surrounding At-Tuwani, and some of them also attacked the international volunteers throwing stones at them with a sling. Apart from the attacks, demolitions haven’t stopped: the Israeli forces evicted 14 people in Ar-Rifa’yya, among which 6 children. In Birin, instead, they completely destroyed the foundations of a Palestinian school.
The number of checkpoints on the road leading to the village of Al-Birkeh has slightly decreased, whereas there were quite a lot of stop working orders, which were delivered by the Israeli Army and the Israeli Civil Administration (DCOs).

After the winter holidays, school started on January 14th, and so the School Patrol activity which monitors children from the villages of Tuba and Maghayir Al Abeed as they go to school: everything was calm these weeks, and the Israeli military escort always arrived on time.
Finally, January ended with a nonviolent act in the Jordan Valley to protest against the “Deal of the Century”. Palestinians from the West Bank started to till the soil of a zone which had been declared military training area, so Israeli soldiers responded by throwing bombs and tear gas, while streets were closed and checkpoints created in order to prevent other Palestinians from reaching the protest.
This month, the volunteers from Operazione Colomba have been present in the villages surrounding Wadi Ouja (Jordan Valley), escorting Palestinian shepherds near the illegal outpost of Omar Farm. In fact, settlers and the Israeli army usually prevent them from herding their flocks in that area.
As our volunteers were accompanying shepherds in the North, in Ressas village, one volunteer and an Israeli activist were attacked by the settlers.