At-Tuwani Puts Down Roots in Face of Israeli Settlement Expansion
This Saturday, October 3, residents of the small town of At-Tuwani in the South Hebron Hills were accompanied by approximately 40 international and Israeli solidarity activists on a tree-planting mission. The group walked out of town in the direction of Ma’on, an illegal Israeli settlement that has been expanding with great speed in the last few months. In September alone, 6 new homes were erected near the settlement, continuing to encroach on privately-owned Palestinian land. In response to this illegal expansion, the popular committee of At-Tuwani organized a mass tree-planting session. Activists spent several hours clearing the ground and planting fruit trees throughout the area near the settlement, both as a symbolic reclamation of the land and as a practical legal precedent: Palestinians must demonstrate usage of agricultural land or risk having it declared “state land” by the Israeli government and then turned over to Jewish Israelis. By putting down roots, the people of At-Tuwani are continuing their on-going struggle to remain on their land in the face of right-wing settler violence and expansion.
The group of internationals and Israelis then went to the isolated community of Susiya, whose residents have also been under constant threat of violence and land theft, and participated in an art project, building kites with local youth.