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Chronology of a Theft and the Response At Tuwani

7:00 a.m. Christian Peacemaker Team [CPT] with MPTer, Martha, met the Tuba schoolchildren being escorted by the Israel military jeep.

The internationals joined the At Tuwani village women in harvesting the wheat on their land that lies dangerous close to the illegal Israel settlement and the settler vineyard. Note the white bags of harvest wheat and oats. Sheep and goats harvested the lesser grains.

At 8:40, 4 young settler men arrived in a car.

The women started to move with the bags, but the settlers wrestled 3 large bags from the women. The older woman, whom the other women respectfully called the Hajja, disabled one large bag by dumping it contents on the ground. The settlers carried the bags to the settlers' covered grape vines.

The gadalia, Israeli settler security guard, arrived. The Hajja. a woman in her late 70s, and an older Bedouin tried to convince the gadalia to return the 3 bags of wheat and oats. The gadalia was not moved, but called authorities and others throughout the morning.

Soon 10 Palestinians from the area were at the scene. They had spoke with the gadalia to no avail. Finally, the Israeli military was called. A humvee arrived with 4 Israeli soldiers at 8:50 a.m. An older Palestinian man and the Hajja tried to talk to the soldiers. The Palestinians were there to support. The settlers who stole the bags and the gadalia presented their case to the soldiers, claiming the land was settler land.

The three bags of harvest wheat and oats did not move from where the thieves had put them. No progress had been made with the gadalia or the military.
At 9:20 more “security” came from the settlement. No progress, but the Hajja and the other Palestinians are continuing to present their case.

The women waited. A second military jeep came and went. The Palestinians tried to negotiation. Different men did the talking, but the Hajja was ever present. The military milled around. The gadalia continued phoning. The settlers who stole the harvest and the gadalia showed a map to the soliders claiming the land was settler land

The children came early from school because classes were short with exam week. The children waited and watched. The Israeli army jeep needed to escorted them through the settlement, but the army was busy and the gadalia’s car was blocking the road.

And the women waited. Now about 15 adult Palestinians and 15 children are present. A white pickup with two soldiers arrived a few minutes before and then left. Another white pickup with a couple settlers arrived near the grapevines.
Two internationals walked around the hill to watch the children come over the other side of the hill to the chicken barns and on home. The humvee went around the hill to meet the children and escort them. It did not disturb the gadalia’s pickup which blocked the road.

11:05 A white jeep arrived with two light blue uniformed Israeli border police.

The border police talked with the Palestinians.

The border police spoke with the Hajja and the gadalia. The Hajja vigorously pressed her case.

The Palestinian men alternated pursuing the return of the stolen harvest and the right to harvest the rest of the crop.

A couple settler cars came and went. The gadalia’s son, who is feared by the children, came.

Whom does the Israeli army protect with heavy arms? The settlers know on whom they can count.

The settlers met with the border police to present their case of settler ownership of the harvest land. The gadalia presented to the soldiers and the border police a map of sorts showing that the land is settlement land. Will the map be legal in a court case? What is legal in an illegal system?

The border police tell the Palestinians that there is doubt about the ownership of the land. [It has been in possession of this Palestinian family for years.]

The Israeli border police told the Palestinians that the case is out of his hands.

The settlers had their day. They had to bring the 3 stolen bags back to the top field, but the area is now a closed military zone and no Palestinians can be present. The harvest and probably the land is lost to the Palestinians.

The Hajja had her day. She was persistent in expressing her rights. The community did well with different leaders asserting the need for justice. But it is the Palestinian owners of the land who will pay the expenses for travel and for a lawyer when they go to an Israeli government agency in Hebron to prove that the land they farmed for years is theirs. They probably will not win their case. Israel wants this land inside the green line [border] and will take it by any means. But the children witnessed a united and courageous community and their day is just beginning.

The Israeli occupying army with huge cement blocks blocked the road, the entrance, to the At Tuwani village from Yatta [town and commercial center]. People have to walk up and down steep hills with heavy bundles leaving or entering At Tuwani. Retaliation? Probably.

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