RAMALLAH, Feb. 22, (JMCC) - Palestinian schoolchildren were harassed and chased by Israeli settlers on Monday, after their Israeli soldier escort assigned to them failed to show up for the third straight day. The children waited outside their school in the village of At-Tuwani for an hour before departing on their own to their home villages of Tuba and Mughaer al-Abeed.
International Christian activists repeatedly phoned the Israeli army on the children’s behalf to no avail. In the meantime, two adult male Israeli settlers, one masked, approached the children on a tractor and attempted to blockade the road by creating a barricade with boulders.
When the escort failed to arrive after an hour the children decided to take a longer route around the Israeli settlements and avoid the main road. Along their way they were accosted and chased by four Israeli settlers.
While being pursued, Israeli military jeeps appeared and detained the children for a further hour before releasing them to walk home without an escort. The children took another, more dangerous route along the rugged hillside before finally making it home three hours late.
Palestinians forced to transit by foot have become frequent targets for Israeli settler violence in recent years. OCHA, issued a warning at the end of 2009 saying 250,000 Palestinians were seriously at threat from violence by Israeli settlers. The Israeli army does little to protect Palestinian civilians in the occupied territories, although it is their obligation under international law.