When I take a step back, I am not losing against the occupation. I must write it down to keep it in my mind.
The children from Tuba, the
shebab and the Palestinians have taken many steps backward, but they have never given up. To carry out resistance, you must be patient and forward-looking. Taking a step back and then taking a thousand forward tomorrow. Because it takes a thousand to get that road back. But they need to be done at the right time.
The other day the Israeli soldiers threatened us to stop the Palestinian children they were escorting. They escort them to school, to protect them from Israeli civilians who attack them with stones, sticks and knives.
We had to move, to take a step back; exactly one step behind the wall, the one that marks the "border of Havat Ma'on", the land of the settlers. That step backward has a profound meaning, it means they want that land, free and Palestinian,
to become a barren piece of the settlement, full of racism and violence. Anger, frustration and helplessness. But children must go to school, they have to study, they have to take that step forward with the leg that the occupation has been trying to amputate for years: education, playing, social relations.
Taking a step back, the children arrived and the soldiers left.
To achieve small successes in this moment, you have to step back a few meters.

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Operation Dove / Operazione Colomba is the Nonviolent Peace Corps of the Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII Association. Since 2002 it has been carrying out unarmed civilian protection and accompaniment in Palestine, at the beginning in the Gaza Strip and then in Masafer Yatta (south of Al-Khalil/Hebron).

During these 21 years, hundreds of volunteers from Operation Dove have lived 24 hours for 365 days a year standing by the Palestinian civilians and those communities who chose nonviolent resistance to fight the human rights violations perpetrated by the Israeli army and settlers.

During these 21 years, we have observed, documented and reported these violations by thousands of hours of video footage, hundreds of press releases, dozens of meetings with Italian and international institutions, dozens of articles on national and foreign press, thousands of public meetings.

During these 21 years, we have built strong trust and friendship relations with hundreds of Palestinians and Israelis. Together we are helplessly witnessing the events with deep concern and immense pain, mourning the dead ones. Their request for ending decades of Palestine’s occupation to achieve a just and stable peace is now more than ever unheard and silenced by the deafening noise of weapons.

We now feel that these 21 years efforts are at risk of being definitively crushed and betrayed by the violence of weapons and the arrogance of those who have never acted to stop it, even though they could.

It saddens us to witness this distorted media attention, which talks about the Palestinian issue only now that bloodshed is happening causing an increasing number of deaths day after day, on both sides. Media are not telling that the humanitarian catastrophe for the Palestinians in Gaza has been persisting for decades, it did not start today.

Now and as long as necessary, we keep on staying where it is right to be that is exactly where we have been during these 21 years: alongside those who suffer and stand against violence.

Operation Dove / Operazione Colomba


[Foto: Yahya Hassouna/AFP]

I have been expelled from the country.
Israel decided that I was unwelcome, and they sent me packing.
The Ministry of the Interior declared that I did nothing illegal, I have not broken the law, yet “we do not want you in the country, you must go”.
Why? Because Israeli settlers, who live in illegal settlements, who attack and commit atrocities every day against people who simply try to lead a normal life, have written a report on me and they have sent it to the immigration office.
At the airport they were waiting for me.
“You have breached an unwritten law and got the attention of the wrong people”, these are the words they told me.
Soon before leaving, a Palestinian – a dear one for me – told me “Sooner or later everyone pays the price of their choices”.
Indeed, and I have paid the price for mine. Choices that I would make again, regardless of the pain I feel daily.
But I don’t want to talk about me, I want to talk about those who pay the price every day.
Because three hours by plane from Milan there is an entire community who fight every day to keep living in their homeland; to farm their lands; to build a road, a house, or a bathroom; to gather olives; to go to school.
They fight for living.

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 These words are written by Mohammed Hureini, a Palestinian activist from Masafer Yatta (South Hebron Hills), after he was unjustly arrested on August 5th, 2023, while grazing on his land.

I was grazing our sheep when a group of illegal Israeli settlers invaded our land and started harassing me. They also had some sheep that they unleashed to graze in our land. When I tried to stop them, they called the Israeli army, who immediately came. The army had already prepared a military order entailing that our private land is a closed military area before they joined the settlers. To enforce the military order, which only applies to us, the Israeli commander notified us that we have to leave the land within a few minutes.
I refused and insisted that the settlers should leave our land first. Israeli soldiers responded by handcuffing and blindfolding me. The Israeli commander tightened the handcuffs to hurt me and tried to humiliate and provoke me. I shouted at him and said, “What are you doing? I am not a toy in your hands to treat me like this.” He replied, “Shut up!”
At around 8.00 PM they took me to the military base near the village of Susiya. I could find out about this through a hole that was in the piece of cloth covering my eyes. When we arrived in the military base, they threw me in a yard, where there was a soldier watching me.

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Yesterday Haj Suleiman, man, father, activist, "wise elder" from the village of Umm al Khair, passed away. We were told that he was sick, in critical condition, after an Israeli police truck had run over him and dragged him for meters. What always struck us about Haj Suleiman was that during the actions in defense of his land, his village, his people, he was always in the front line. We saw him stand in front of soldiers, police, bulldozers with his arm raised to be the first to defend others from the violence of the occupation, we heard his voice calling for respect, rights and humanity. Unaware that he would surely be beaten and arrested, he was always ready to pay the price himself. Today in that "front line" he leaves a void. "Haj, wherever you are, wherever we are, give us the strength to fill that void and continue the fight for justice as you did!"
To Eid, Tarek, all his family members and his community a big hug

The volunteers from Operazione Colomba (Operation Dove)

Ali Awad and Awdah Hathaleen - 11 January 2022

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