First Day of School Jitters

Every child has first day of school jitters. “Will my teacher be nice?”, “Will the other kids like me?”, “Am I going to have homework on the first day?” But, for the children of Al Bweireh first day of school jitters take a new and ominous form. “Will adults throw rocks at me or assault me?”, “Will they turn their dogs loose on me?”, “Will the armed soldiers intervene in my defense?”, “Will those soldiers bring further abuse down upon me?” They are worries no child should have to face as he or she journeys to and from school.

injured boy

"This recent attack is one of many over the past few years in the neighborhood of al-Bweireh, on the outskirts of Hebron. Settlers from Givat Ha Harsina, which borders the neighborhood, have hurled stones at and harassed Palestinian children returning home from school for years, but the situation worsened after settlers moved into a makeshift outpost behind a Palestinian home in Al-Bweireh."

To read the full story of the attack, click here.
Pictures and text from Christian Peacemaker Teams

Al Bweireh is a small agricultural community once known as the vegetable basket of Hebron. All of that changed the day the settlement of Givat Ha Harsina was constructed less than a mile away. The main road linking Al Bweireh and Hebron was closed. (Settlers are serviced by a set of roads accessible only to them.) Anyone wishing to journey from Al Bweireh to Hebron must drive miles out of the way on unmaintained, rutted, detour roads, or walk the Al-Bweireh road past the settlement of Givat Ha Harsina. That’s the route children walk each day as they go to and from school. The fence separating the road from Givat Ha Harsina was opened by the Israeli military three years ago leaving no real barrier between the settler community and the school children.

Palestinian children attempting to make their way to school on this road endure harassment by adult members of the Givat Ha Harsina community who often hurl stones as well as words at the children. The situation worsened when an illegal settlement outpost was constructed on a hilltop 200 meters from a Palestinian home on land which has belonged to that family for generations. The outpost settlers own dogs which they use to terrorize the residents of Al Bweireh.

injured boy

At the request of Al Bweireh families, members of Christian Peacemaker Teams and Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel accompany the children to help prevent settlers from attacking or otherwise harassing them. Opening the main road to Hebron would make the children’s journey to school safer, and erase the isolation which emboldens settlers seeking to commit acts of violence against their neighbors.