14 October 2007


the village of At-Tuwani
for more photos, click here

I just returned to Hebron from a few days with the CPT team in At-Tuwani, a small village in the hills south of the city of Hebron.

It's much different than the city of Hebron, which has about 150,000 inhabitants. Tuwani is a village of about 130 people. They live off the land, growing olives and grains and herding sheep. It's a remarkably beautiful area, as you can see from my photos. One morning we walked down to see some old cave homes, only recently abandoned within the last decade. And villagers in neighboring Tuba still make their homes in caves. People have been living in these hills for a very very long time!

But in 1981, they gained some new and very unfriendly neighbors when the illegal Israeli settlement of Ma'on formed on the hill adjacent to Tuwani. More recently, settlers in Ma'on established an outpost even closer to Tuwani called Havat Ma'on, taking over land that belongs to villagers in Tuwani.

The settlers in Havat Ma'on in particular are a brand of violent ideologues that seem focused on making life difficult for the villagers in Tuwani and neighboring villages. Children from the village of Tuba, where inhabitants have lived in caves for hundreds of years, walk over the hill every day to attend school in Tuwani. Since the settlement and outpost have set up camp, the children must walk between the two to get to the school in Tuwani. They were regularly harassed, so CPTers began accompanying them daily to and from school. Until a few years ago, when settlers attacked two CPTers with chains, sending them to the hospital, one with a broken arm and leg, and the other with a punctured lung. Now the Israeli government provides a military escort for the children-- a jeep full of IDF soldiers appears every morning and afternoon to accompany the children past the settlement.

I'm still having trouble understanding this-- that a group of people could be so determined, their hate so virulent, as to personally make the daily effort to go out and harass shepherds grazing their flocks, even school children walking to school. Racism, my sisters and brothers, is a frighteningly healthy beast.

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