AT-TUWANI, SOUTH HEBRON HILLS, September 3, 2012 (WAFA) – Palestinian Children of Tuba and Magayir al-Abeed villages, in the South Hebron Hills, are still exposed to regular attacks by Havat Ma'on settlers even under Israeli military escort, according to a press release by the rights group Operation Dove.
Since 2001, Israeli settlers from Havat Ma'on outpost have repeatedly attacked the children, aged between 6 and 15 years, on their way to and from school, preventing almost all of them from attending school and forcing the few able children to take longer and rougher path.
In order to reach the school of At-Tuwani, the children coming from Tuba and Magayir al-Abeed usually walk through the shortest route (about 20 minutes) that passes between the Israeli settlement of Ma'on and Havat Ma'on outpost (Hill 833).
This route is the main road linking their villages and At-Tuwani.
In 2004, the volunteers of Operation Dove and Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) begun to accompany the children along the shortest route, but the violent attacks against the children and the volunteers made this solution impracticable.
These attacks brought the matter to the attention of the Children Rights Committee of the Knesset, which established in November 2004 a military escort to protect the children.From November 2004, CPT and Operation Dove have constantly monitored the military escort, documenting the failures of the Israeli army and the settlers’ violence.
During the school year 2011-2012, the volunteers of Operation Dove registered that in 35% of the cases; the military escort was late, causing the children to lose about 19 hours of lessons.
In addition, in 48% of cases, the military escort arrived late after school, forcing the children to wait for a total time of about 21 hours. While in eight cases (2% of the total), the military escort did not arrive at all.
Moreover, the soldiers themselves were aggressive toward the children in 28 registered cases, forcing them to run or putting them at risk with their behavior.
In 47% of the cases, the soldiers did not walk with the children and in 54% of them; the soldiers did not complete the agreed route, leaving the children in danger where they were repeatedly attacked by the settlers.
During the last school year, there were 17 cases of aggressive behavior practiced by Israeli settlers against Palestinian children; a total of 143 attacks since the beginning of the military escort.Although there were instances of effective intervention by the military in protecting the children, it can be concluded that the escort continues to be insufficient and often negligent in defending the Palestinian children from violence and ensuring their right to education, in violation of Articles 2-3-6-16-19-38 of the International Convention on the Rights of the Child and Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.