Nonviolent Resistance in the South Hebron Hills

Jan 29 2016 / 6:06 pm
This little girl was injured by two masked settlers. Full caption below. (Cassandra Dixon, Supplied)
This little girl was injured by two masked settlers. Full caption below. (Cassandra Dixon, Supplied)

By Cassandra Dixon

The worst worries of a child’s school day should be homework. Maybe a lost book, or an argument with a friend. No child’s walk to school should routinely involve armed soldiers and fear of sometimes being chased and assaulted by angry adults. But for the Palestinian children who live with their families in the small rural villages that make up the South Hebron Hills, this is how the school day begins. Illegal settlements and outposts isolate and separate their villages and soldiers are a constant in their lives.

Once, the trip from the tiny hamlet of Tuba to the school in the village of Tuwani was a calm and beautiful walk along a quiet road connecting the two villages. During the l980s Israeli settlers built a settlement on privately owned Palestinian land, which had been used to graze sheep and goats. Following construction of the settlement, the settlers established an illegal outpost. Now, industrial chicken barns sit astride the road that once served children walking to school, farmers taking livestock to town, and families traveling to Tuwani, or the larger town of Yatta for health care, shopping, and higher education.

Between the settlement and the outpost, what remains of the road is closed to Palestinians. With one exception, – children walk behind an Israeli military jeep to reach their school. Their parents are not allowed to walk with them.

The twenty or so children who make this trip start their school day in an unprotected field, anxiously waiting for the Israeli soldiers who will oversee their walk to school. Villagers had built shelters in which the children could await the soldiers, but Israeli authorities have dismantled every shelter. If it is raining, the children get soaked. Some days the soldiers are the same soldiers who chased or arrested shepherds the day before – shepherds who may be the brothers or fathers of these children.  Some days the soldiers are late, leaving the group of children waiting, vulnerable to attack and within easy reach of the outpost.  Some days the military escort does not arrive at all, and the children make the trip to school with international volunteers along a longer path, which also lies alongside the settlement.

About 1,000 people live in the neighboring villages, an estimated half of whom are children. Nevertheless, because the villages lie inside of Israeli Firing Zone 918, the military uses the land for military training.

Amazingly, despite all of this, it is almost unheard of for children to miss a day of school. Parents are determined that their children will be educated. When I began volunteering in Tuwani, the school reached only to third grade. Now thanks to the community’s determination to provide their children with education, students can complete high school in the village, and although facing a continued threat of demolition by Israeli military bulldozers, villagers have built and staffed primary schools for children who live in 8 nearby villages.

This is what nonviolent resistance to military occupation looks like.

I’m grateful that I can spend a portion of this year in Palestine. For many years children in these villages have taught me about nonviolence. Sometimes, the presence of international human rights workers holding cameras has some small positive effect on their days.

U.S. citizens bear some responsibility for the interruption of their childhoods. The U. S. subsidizes about 25% of Israel’s military budget, at a cost to U.S. taxpayers conservatively estimated at $3.1 billion a year.

I’m working with the Italian organization Operation Dove.

They support Palestinians who resist the Israeli occupation, standing with families in their commitment to remain on their land.  This includes accompanying school children and farm families as they walk to school, graze their animals and tend their crops. Operation Dove helps document the harassment, intimidation, arrests, detentions, home demolitions, checkpoints, road closures, military training exercises, and settler attacks. Villagers also report to Operation Dove when they endure theft and when their crops and property are destroyed.

Protective presence provided by activists is not a large-scale solution to the violence that intrudes into childrens’ lives in Palestine. But many years of visits with these families persuades me that it’s important and necessary to support and participate in the villagers’ nonviolent efforts. Families that confront militarism and occupation help us move beyond our addiction to militarism and violence.

The children I met early on are grown now. Some have gone on to college, and some have families of their own. These young people have every reason to be angry. Their childhoods included fear, intimidation, demolitions, arrests and isolation. But they have also grown up witnessing their community’s steadfast commitment to nonviolently resist injustice. Their families have supported them well, including them in the community’s struggle for dignity. Against all odds they are growing up with humor and tenacity instead of anger and bitterness.  They are living proof to the rest of us that love wins.

(To read more about Operation Dove’s work in the South Hebron Hills, visit http://www.operazionecolomba.it/togetherattuwani)

Photo Caption:  This little girl was injured by two masked settlers who attacked her with stones as she gathered herbs with a friend on the path between Tuba and Tuwani. She and her siblings make the same trip on foot each school day. She is an amazingly smart and tough young girl – insistent that the many odd volunteers that pass through her life should learn her name and visit her family’s home. She needed four stitches in a head wound after the attack. (Photo credit: Cassandra Dixon, supplied.) 

– Cassandra Dixon lives at Mary House of Hospitality, a small catholic worker house which offers hospitality to families visiting the federal prison at Oxford, WI, and works as a carpenter in Madison. This article was contributed to PalestineChronicle.com. 

image_pdfimage_print
Posted by on Jan 29 2016 . Filed under Articles, Features . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 . You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Comment

Please insert the correct number.


The Free Zone | Blog

  • June 24, 2016

    Secret Police Document Exposes Suspected Criminal Activity by Israeli Lawmakers

    Israeli media sources have revealed a secret police document detailing suspected criminal activity by Israeli lawmakers, Israel’s Channel 2 reported. - Channel Two said on Wednesday that a confidential document prepared by the Special Investigations Unit of the Israeli police details the involvement of ministers and members of the Knesset in crimes and criminal irregularities. -... More →
  • June 24, 2016

    PA's Abbas Accedes that it Accepted a State on Less Than a Quarter of Historic Palestine

    Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, has said he had accepted the establishment of a Palestinian state on less than a quarter of historic Palestine in order to bring peace and an end to years of conflict. - Abbas addressed the European Parliament in Brussels, saying: “Israel wants to buy time to establish facts on the ground and make the two-state solution idea unachievable, while it continues to build... More →
  • June 24, 2016

    Abbas Declines Meeting with Israel's Rivlin in Brussels: Israeli Paper

    Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, has refused to meet Israeli president, Reuven Rivlin, in Brussels, the Israeli press reported on Thursday. - The proposed meeting with Rivlin was to be held at the invitation of the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz. Israeli daily, Yedioth Ahronoth, reported that Rivlin agreed to meet the Palestinian president, however, the meeting failed to materialize... More →
  • June 24, 2016

    Israeli Refuses to Establish Schools for Thousands of Negev Arabs

    At least 5,200 Arab children not included in any educational system live in the Negev area - the Arab dominated region located in southern Israel. - Local Arab authorities highlighted the issue last year stating that 40 per cent of Negev Arab children have not been enrolled in any educational system. MEMO revealed that parents often opted not to enrol their children in schools due to their difficult living conditions... More →
  • June 24, 2016

    Israel Orders Closure of PA-funded Television Channel

    Israel’s Public Security Minister, Gilad Erdan, issued an order today, banning Musawa, a Palestine Authority-funded television channel, for six months. Erdan claimed the channel represents an affront to Israel’s sovereignty, Ma’an reported. - The television channel was initially named 1948, referred to the year that Israel was established, when more than 750,000 Palestinians were violently displaced from their... More →

Recent Articles

Support Palestine Chronicle
Support Palestine Chronicle
"The Palestine Chronicle is a beacon. History, witness, analysis and ways forward are here, written with authority and humanity. Long may it publish." — John Pilger.
Subscribe to Newsletter
Enter your email address to subscribe to our mailing list.
Email:
I Remember My Name
separator
Jerusalem Interrupted: Modernity and Colonial Transformation 1917-present
My Father Was A Freedom Fighter
Disclaimer RSS Feed Contact us Donation Popup
© Copyright 1999-2016 PalestineChronicle.com. All rights reserved
Powered By MediaSeniors