Big turn-out for Palestinian film event

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Around 70 people attended a fund-raising event at the Trades Club last Sunday night and helped to raise close to £500 for the threatened West Bank village of At-Tuwani.A short very recently made film about the plight of the village started the evening. The film showed how the people of At-Tuwani are resisting, non-violently, the attempts by illegal Israeli settlers, aided by the Israeli army, to force them to leave their homes and their land.

The people there have been subject to attacks by settlers for more than twenty years. Livestock has been stolen and killed,land poisoned, shepherds and farmers beaten and crops burned.Even local children have been attacked on their way to school and now need a daily escort. The situation for the people of At-Tuwani is so difficult that a Christian Peacemaker Team has a full-time presence there - the job of the CPT is to accompany the local people when they want to farm on their land and to monitor the children on their way to school. The presence of the team deters settler attacks.

Two more short films about Palestine followed and the last part of the evening was the screening of The Iron Wall, an hour long professionally made film about how the Israeli-built seperation Wall has affected the life of Palestinians living in the West Bank

Thanks to Ron Taylor for this report

Fundraising event for Palestinian Village
for At-Tuwani, a village under attack
on Jan 11th 2008

added Thursday, 3 January 2008

A screening of films about Palestine at Hebden Bridge Trades Club on Sunday 20th January at 8pm, admission £3 (at least!)

A short recently-made film about At-Tuwani, followed by ‘Avenge But One of My Two Eyes’.

Life under Israeli military occupation
by Ron Taylor of Hebden Bridge

At-Tuwani is a village in the South Hebron Hills on the southern fringes of the West Bank of Palestine – an area under complete Israeli army control. It has existed for hundreds of years or more but that existence is under threat.

The problem for the people of At-Tuwani is that their land is wanted by others. In the early 1980s an Israeli settlement was established nearby and since that time the settlers, many of them from the United States, France and Israel itself, have harassed the local people, mainly farmers and shepherds, in an attempt to force them to move away.

The harassment has taken many forms. The first attacks consisted of chasing the shepherds and beating them with sticks, uprooting olive trees and stealing sheep. As a result several small hamlets close to At-Tuwani were abandoned by the late 1990s. But worse was to come. The settlers built an outpost, even closer to village and the attacks became more serious. Fields were set on fire, crops burned, villagers assaulted and sheep killed.

Not satisfied with this, the settlers started to attack children on their way to school. In an early attack a six year-old girl was hospitalised with head injuries; Fatimah Zen never returned to school. Both the settlement and its outpost are illegal under international law.

In desperation the villagers called for help from Israeli and international peace groups. The call was answered and volunteers began to accompany the children to protect them, but the violence continued. In September 2004 two members of the Christian Peacemaker Team, which now has a permanent presence in At-Tuwani, were seriously injured by masked settlers wielding batons and chains. Others have received death threats.

In March 2005 another weapon was introduced – poison. Local shepherds found barley coated with a blue poison near wells and on grazing land. Dead animals were found – sheep, goats, gazelles and squirrels. By June of that year the number of sheep and goats belonging to the village found dead had risen to more than 100. The Israeli authorities did nothing.

Despite the provocation the people of At-Tuwani, together with Christian Peacemaker Team, are committed to non-violent resistance in the hope that they can survive on their land with their already precarious livelihoods intact. The CPT, armed only with video cameras, assists them by monitoring the children on their way to school, accompanying the shepherds on to the grazing lands and providing a presence at the frequent army flying-checkpoints.

When I was in At-Tuwani a few weeks ago it was clear that without the presence of and support from international and Israeli peace groups, the village will almost certainly succumb to what can only be described as ethnic-cleansing. The Israeli army, which has permission to demolish any building in At-Tuwani, is only there to protect the settlers and to facilitate this process.

Money raised for At-Tuwani will help to pay for mobile phones so farmers and shepherds can report attacks and keep in touch with the Peacemakers, and water. The village has no mains supply and when their wells run dry, water has to be bought and transported in by tanker.

See also

Previous coverage of Palestine on the Hebweb


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