Updated Report from Palestine....
Updated: Mar 5
Cassandra Dixon, contact for the WNPJ member group Mary House, is in Palestine this season, escorting children to and from school. Here is her report from March 5th, followed by her previous report from Feb. 23rd.
Hi Friends, (March 5, 2023)
"These Children Are Losing their Childhoods to Occupation"
One of the most distressing things I see here is the daily impact of the occupation on children. In recent days armed and masked Israeli settlers have been bringing flocks onto cultivated Palestinian land very near the village of Tuba to destroy Palestinian crops, and to continue to lay a claim to more and more Palestinian land.
Their presence there has meant that the Palestinian school children from Tuba and Maghyer al Abeed villages are forced to walk through a volatile and confusing scene of armed Israeli settlers, soldiers and police in order to pass between their homes and their school in the village of At Tuwani.. For 15 years children from these villages have walked with an army escort in order to pass the illegal Israeli outpost of Havat Ma’on on their way to school, and even with the escort they are frequently harassed and threatened by settlers.
Now the complete failure of the Israeli army and police to address the presence of settlers and flocks on these lands has effectively doubled the length of time the children must walk in the presence of armed settlers, and because the escort tasked with their safety stops inside the outpost they are now forced to walk without protection to reach their homes. Internationals have walked with the children for the portion of the path that the soldiers do not cover, but now due to the presence of settlers, police and army they are unable to meet the children where the army leaves the, and the children are forced to walk the most dangerous path alone. The settlers use of flocks to destroy crops on these Palestinian fields that were planted earlier this spring is both a means of stealing the crops that should be providing food for the owner’s sheep, and a way of stealing large tracts of Palestinian land. By grazing flocks on the land, armed and masked, and claiming it as state land, the settlers are effectively expanding the illegal outpost all the way to the edge of Tuba. In this way they are isolating the village and cutting it off from access to education, commerce and health care by making the path out too dangerous to use.
I just don’t have words for how heartbreaking this is, Cassandra
February 23, 2023
Yesterday there was a terrible Israeli military invasion of the Palestinian city of Nablus. At least 11 people have died, and over 100 were wounded, many of them seriously. The dead include a 16 year old child and a 72 year old man.
The raid will probably even be in the mainstream news.
But western media rarely covers the endless infringements on human rights that are a part of daily life for Palestinians living under occupation.
I arrived in the South Hebron Hills at an incredibly sad time, Haroun Abu Aram died earlier this month, 2 years after he was shot and paralyzed by Israeli soldiers while he tried to prevent them from stealing the small generator that provided electricity to his village. At the time he was shot he was 23 years old and about to be married.
During the past two days here, settlers have been occupying Palestinian grazing land near Tuba village with a settler flock, harassing Palestinian shepherds and internationals, disrupting and scaring children as they walked to school, and calling in the army, which responded by taking the ID of the Palestinian land owner and doing absolutely nothing to stop the settler harassment. Tuba has lost an enormous amount of land to this kind of settler aggression and army collusion, with the result that now it is impossible to walk safely from there to the nearest village and Palestinian road access in Tuwani, and people are having to kill sheep in order to buy grain to feed flocks that should be safely grazing right now.
Families there and in surrounding villages are living with the constant threat of demolition of their homes and agricultural buildings to make way for Israeli use of the land for military training. In the village of Khalet AlDabba there are demolition orders for all of the buildings, including the school. Shortly after I arrived Israeli bulldozers destroyed an olive grove there, as well as a water cistern Im the village of Al Bweibh, and confiscated an entire caravan home near Bani Naim, leaving a demolition order for the well that should have provided that home with water.
And throughout the time I’ve been here families trying to travel the short distances between villages have faced military checkpoints and attacks by Israeli settlers. On one recent evening a family returned to Tuwani with damage to their car after passing settlers who had blocked a road and were stoning Palestinian cars and breaking windshields. The car contained a grandmother and a small child who mercifully were unhurt.
These events that I happen to have seen in a short time here are such a tiny portion of the loss and stress endured by people and families daily throughout the occupied West Bank. Home demolitions, checkpoints, settler attacks and military raids are constant and relentless here.
Thank you so much for caring about people here,