Part of the material in this documentary is from the video archives
of Operazione Colomba and CPT and was filmed between 2006 and 2011. – Where are you from?
– From At-Tuwani. Ale, there are three soldiers. They are talking
with the boys. We are filming. Where is the knife? Where is the knife? – It’s not a knife…
– Ok. Come. Ale, they are pushing them towards
the truck. You should come. My name is Ameer and I’m 13 years old.
I live in the village of At-Tuwani. What happened to you around two months
ago while you were near an army position? I was going with some friends to gather some wild herbs. We took two foreigners from
the international missions with us and we went to gather the herbs from our fields. Afterward a settler arrived and sent the army against us. The soldiers arrived, they threw the herbs
on the ground. Then they ordered us to sit down. Fortunately there were the two internationals
otherwise they might have beaten us. I told him: “I’m not old, I’m not old” and ran away. A soldier followed me with his rifle and wanted to shoot me. So I stopped, got in the jeep and they took us up. – Up where?
– Up in the settlement. They interrogated us: “Age? What’s your name?” Then a police officer came who wanted to beat us. They told us: “Don’t come back here any more.
There’s no more land for you here. This land belongs to the settlers, it’s not yours anymore.” Since then I’m afraid of them. I no longer go on our land. Go away with the camera. This way you can film. What we are going to be passing from now on is the biggest block of settlements. One of the first. There, that’s the wall. What we can see there where
the buses are is the check-point which as you can see resembles a toll booth. Here you need to film with discretion. These are settlers that swear to the Arabs
that they will exterminate them. This is my mother. They fire on our sheep, because
they want to deprive the Palestinians even of that which they can nourish themselves with. They have burned pieces of land.
After a Palestinian works for weeks on his land the settlers arrive and set in on fire. This is only a small part of what the settlers do. I am Saber Huraini, mayor of At-Tuwani. The township of At-Tuwani was founded with the birth of the Palestinian government in 1997,
and in that year I was elected mayor. During the 30 years of colonization the area
of At-Tuwani has always been on the fringe. The village was without water, electricity,
roads: without anything necessary for survival. The village of At-Tuwani is in Area C.
Therefore it is an area of the West Bank that under total Israeli military and administrative authority. The soldiers frequently patrol the villages.
Frequently they enter the villages. At night they raid houses, looking for weapons
or just trying to intimidate people. It’s a particularly disadvantaged area,
like there are many of, and it’s particularly militarized. The citizens of the town have to use
a generator for electricity, that as you can see lights up this lamp. This stays on for around 3 or 4 hours a day,
after sunset, til ten when it is turned off. We have made agreement with the Palestinian
government in order to obtain electricity. But when the project was already finished,
there was an Israeli raid. They confiscated the pylons and all the tools
and machinery present in the area. So we have gotten used to using the generator. As a township we act to provide any service, even simple things, to the people of this area
and also to the people of nearby areas. The problem is that Israel prevents us
from doing anything, even from building a road. What are the differences between
the settlements and the situation you live in? What a question! When you talk
about situation there are differences. To the settlements Israel supplies
all services: roads, electricity, buildings. The settlers already have everything
they want and everything they need to live. For example, they have irrigation for trees. One of their trees consumes more water than
all what the inhabitants of At-Tuwani consume. There’s an enormous difference. It is a well-studied policy of colonization
that aims at the eviction of areas like this, reduced to ruins, to empty them of their real citizens. This is the Israeli’s goal. We presented some documentation of the village,
but four years ago Israel were rejected. Currently there are Israeli lawyers,
left-wing non-violent movements that support us the non-violent popular resistance. But our requests have not been approved:
they don’t want to give more space to the people, so that they might spread out
and build houses for their children on this land. Since 1995 we have been subjected
to a bloody assault by the extremist Israeli settlers. All Israelis are certainly not extremists,
but a large part of Israeli extremists are here in this area,
especially to the south and east of Yatta. This is our land. We are not terrorists.
The terrorists are the settlers. I ask the foreigners that are here:
have you ever seen a Palestinian go to them in the settlements of Ma’on, Karmel or Susiya? No. It is always them who come to us and the
soldiers are always on the settlers side. This is not a “problematic area” like they say. The problems are only caused by the settlers
with the help of the soldiers. The soldiers are coming You just saw the soldiers, equipped
with American weapons, that stopped me. They came to me on a piece of Palestinian land,
that the settlers have destroyed. This shows that they support the settlers. They told me to go away. I am not
near the settlement, I am kilometers away. These people don’t want to leave us in this town. The occupation Before the settlements life was hard but
there weren’t the settlers and the suffering of today. Our torture started in 1982 with the construction of
settlements in the area, which was the beginning of the suffering and the mass expulsion: in 1997 they destroyed these villages
and didn’t even leave a wall standing. Afterward, thanks to journalists from Umm el Fahem
that drew attention to our problem we were able to re-enter into Tuba
thanks to a court decision that recognized our right to return. They tried to negotiate
with me to get me to live somewhere else but I refused, preferring
to die rather than leave my home. The settlement of Ma’on My name is Mahmoud Hamaamda,
from the village of Um Fagarah. I was born here in 1965, before the Israeli occupation. Until then we lived with dignity,
even if in caves and as shepherds, as our ancestors before us. This until 1982, when they began building
the settlements of Karmel and Ma’on. From the settlements they would provoke us
and around 1985 we were prohibited from farming our lands, which had been declared a military area. The 14th of December 1999 the Israeli army decided to deport 4 villages of the area, including mine. We went to court, with the lawyer Neta Amar
defending us. On March 29th 2000 we won our case thanks to the support of several associations, like B’ Tselem, Peace Now and “Rabbis against
the destruction of houses” But we understand now that we were deceived. We re-entered our lands on April 1st 2000
and the settlers are still here. So far they have confiscated two thirds
of our land, if not more. Havat Ma’on. Illegal settler outpost House of the Rabai family
Havat Ma’on. Illegal settler outpost In this field of olive trees here, they destroyed
the first seven in the middle in February 2008. And few months ago they destroyed the others.
Therefore almost the entire field is destroyed. It’s the most damaged field because it’s near
the outpost and not visible from the village. Therefore the Palestinians who own the land
can never see what happens to it. God help us… Where can we go? We can’t leave our houses? God help us… There are truly many contradictions in this place.
And it takes time to understand them. It’s important to make distinctions, one has difficulty
understanding what is right or wrong. Take the the escorting of children to school for example,
it is an enormous contradiction. After years I still have difficulty getting
used to the idea that it is normal that Israeli soldiers have to protect
Palestinian children from attacks by other Israelis who by Israel’s own laws couldn’t be there
because they are living in an illegal outpost. And every morning it’s the same thing:
you see children walking on the road from the village, a road they should walk on normally because it’s public, and instead they are escorted by soldiers. The school was rebuilt at night,
because the Israelis wouldn’t give the license to build. Thank God the school is still functioning today, even with the difficulties created by Israel and the violence of the settlers. The main reason for our presence as internationals has been that of accompanying the children to and from school. The shortest route between the villages of Tuba
and Maghayir Al-Abeed and At-Tuwani passes in between the settlement of Ma’on
and the outpost of Havat Ma’on. Children on this route have been attacked
and beaten by settlers several times. For around three years the students were obliged to go
the long way. Then the internationals took the task of accompanying them on the main road,
to save time and energy. The first 2 days everything went well, the children were
accompanied without any problems. The third day however we were ambushed
by settlers in ski-masks. They started beating everyone with sticks and chains.
Our children are used to such situations and managed to escape with slight injuries,
but the internationals were savagely beaten. Because of this single episode there was
American and European pressure on Israel to protect our children from the settlers, to take them to school and accompany
them back safe and sound every day. And since that day there are soldiers
that patrol the road and accompany them in the morning and in the afternoon,
so our children can go to school. The soldiers often arrive late out of spite,
but we go forward just the same. That day we were going to school with the internationals.
The children were in front, and I was further in back.
We didn’t want to pass because of the settlers, then I saw people coming back:
the settlers had beaten a girl and an international. I had stopped and they were coming towards me:
the settlers were chasing them. The internationals stopped and the settlers started beating them while the children escaped. That day we didn’t go to school and since
then they started sending the soldiers with us. On one side there were the settlers,
on the other as well, we felt doomed. We come to study and we want go and return safely. I have dreams about how they are dressed,
their masks, them attacking me. I start to be paranoid about how they will attack.
Sometimes dreams are very real. The popular resistance If we had used any form of violence
you wouldn’t find any of us still on this land. With the excuse of violence they would transfer
all of us from here. It’s the excuse they are looking for. The settler approaches us
when we are on our lands: he wants to provoke us. We ask him why. “I do it so that
you’ll try to kill me” “But why do I have to kill you?” Firstly, we are women. Our role is
to support the popular resistance. I’m more interested in you women.
You think: we’re women and our role is limited to the house. What else can we do? Our role in the
resistance is more important than that of the men. Here in At-Tuwani the situation of women is difficult. The role of women in this area is to look
after the children and to do housework. They have no other role in life other than these things. It came to me to organize something
just for the women of the village. The women that were here hadn’t studied but all had
manual skills, needlework, work of wool. All this to make the role of women in life active,
to make the woman understand that her role is not just having
children and doing housework. We can do more. In the non-violent resistance as well: when the men and their children go out with the sheep the women are with them. If there is an attack by settlers or the army,
the women are on the front line. They are subjected to the violence of the settlers,
they get the men away from the place of confrontation, because
the army will come and take the man to prison. After being jailed there’s about 5000 shekel
fine to permit him to return home. Don’t have a role?
The woman is half of society. They have a role. For example, settlers came to house but
there weren’t any men. Do we let them in? Of course we don’t let them in. We must resist as much as we can and if we must die we die. The woman fights more than the man,
the woman exerts herself more than the man. The settlers are raising the level of conflict
and trying to provoke us even more because we are responding with a weapon even more
powerful than a firearm, which is the camera. Images become a powerful weapon
and when they see that they run away, they don’t know what to do, they cover their faces
and try to destroy the camera or attack some activist or some Arab: it’s all they can manage to do. Every day we accompany the shepherds
that take their herds out on their own land. The fact that we have cameras enables us
to document everything that occurs here so that in case of arrest or settler attack we have proof. Very often the shepherds,
especially when attacked by settlers, press charges through the Israeli police and thanks to videos manage to win. It is something that would not happen if they did not have proof of having been attacked. We ask ourselves what else can
be done in addition to being here and bringing our solidarity to the
Palestinian cause. Because it is not enough, because it is not our objective.
We are not here to take someones side. The action of Operazione Colomba
is not an action of an NGO that comes to build. We do not have money.
We are not here to build anything. What we do is live with the people.
It’s a relationship that is built step by step. We are here because there is something that needs to be defended, and that is a minimum of justice necessary before being able to attain any eventual peace
between Israelis and Palestinians. Non-violence and the peaceful popular struggle
are a very important part of the history of the Palestinian people in their resistance to colonialism. Our duty is to make this concept more and more dear,
but this is done together. There are also some Israelis, and we keep them close
to us for the good of the Palestinians. There are supporters from Europe and America
that feel the suffering of the Palestinians, that share their concerns and those moments
of popular struggle against Israeli colonization. The choice we have made today is that of popular resistance. Many families are built around the work of women
because it has become a fixed income, because the settlers have stolen much of their land
and poisoned their herds. When there is no income coming in from outside,
the work of women becomes central. If they cut off a source we open another,
if Israel prohibits something we find another way, if Israel cuts off the supply to something
we produce something else to survive. We fight the Israeli occupation with non-violence
a without the instrument of war. I always hope that our children will live in a more
secure situation than our. I hope the same things for the children of the Jews:
they have no responsibility. The peoples aren’t involved in what happens. It is the orders of the governments
that unleash conflicts on the people. In 2010 the inhabitants of At-Tuwani were able
to obtain electricity for their village The 23rd of March 2011 Israeli secret services
raided the village, in an attempt
to destroy the popular resistance Operazione Colomba and CPT maintain
their presence at At-Tuwani, bringing solidarity
and monitoring the events of the area
around the hills south of Hebron In 2010 another 88 young Israelis refused
to be drafted into the military The experience of grassroots resistance of At-Tuwani
has spread to other villages, and is slowly
making itself known on the entire
political scene of the West Bank The road to school taken every day
by the children of Tuba is still insecure I dream that the army and the settlers leave. That the problems between us and them end,
because we have much fear. What must we do? The have rifles
and weapons. What must we do? We have our hands and our sticks.
What must we do? Thank you, Ameer. Thank you.