Stories from Palestine: Barriers to Education

CPT Terms and Places Maps At-Tuwani East Jerusalem Links show all

Christian Peacemaker Teams

May / June CPT Palestine Delegation members with Mordechai Vanunu (he's the fellow in the yellow shirt in the left front of the photo)

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) arose from a call in 1984 for Christians to devote the same discipline and self-sacrifice to nonviolent peacemaking that armies devote to war. Enlisting the whole church in an organized, nonviolent alternative to war, today CPT places violence-reduction teams in crisis situations and militarized areas around the world at the invitation of local peace and human rights workers. CPT embraces the vision of unarmed intervention waged by committed peacemakers ready to risk injury and death in bold attempts to transform lethal conflict through the nonviolent power of Gods truth and love.

Initiated by Mennonites, Brethren and Quakers with broad ecumenical participation, CPTs ministry of Biblically-based and spiritually-centered peacemaking emphasizes creative public witness, nonviolent direct action and protection of human rights.

A strategy developed thoughtfully over the years has taught us that:

* trained, skilled, international teams can work effectively to support local efforts toward nonviolent peacemaking;
* getting in the way of injustice through direct nonviolent intervention, public witness and reporting to the larger world community can make a difference;
* peace team work engages congregations, meetings and support groups at home to play a key advocacy role with policy makers.

CPT is supported by the Church of the Bretheren, Mennonite Church Canada, Mennonite Church USA, Friends United Meeting, Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, Congregation of St. Basil (Basilians), Every Church a Peace Church, & Presbyterian Peace Fellowship.

Brooke notes: CPT is not a Christian conversion organization. When CPT is approached about conversion to Christianity those people are sent to organizations who's purpose is conversion.

Terms and Places

Settlement: communities occupied by Israeli's, illegally according to international law, in the Palestinian Territories.

Outpost: the beginnings of a permanent settlement.

Area A - full control of the Palestinian Authority.

Area B - Palestinian civil control and Israeli security control.

Area C - full Israeli control, except over Palestinian civilians. These areas were Israeli settlements and "security zones."
These areas were designated under the Oslo Accords, 1993
(Wikipedia, September 8, 2008)

Yatta: Largest city near At-Tuwani and surrounding villages (pop. 42,900). Location of hospital and secondary school. The road to Yatta is often blocked by impassable roadblocks which block not only access to vital services but also access to life giving water supplies.

At-Tuwani: An ancient village in the South Hebron Hills, Palestinian Territories. It is the location of the area school and school children from throughout the area come to At-Tuwani to go to school. Access to the school is difficult by children in the surrounding hills because of the illegal Israeli settlers living in the settlement of Ma'on and the outpost of Hill 833 who have attacked children on their way to school in At-Tuwani.

Ma'on: A settlement established in 1982.
from an interview with H. in 2006, from
"At first the settlers started with a few caravans but each year took more and more land. This of course effected the economy of our village. Having less land meant less agriculture produced, therefore more to buy which meant selling our sheep to buy food. More information about At-Tuwani can be found here:  The existence of Ma'on is illegal according to international law.

Hill 833: An outpost in the hills of At-Tuwani. It is illegal under both international and Israeli law. It has been demolished once by the Israeli Defense force, and while it is currently under demolition orders the residents of the outpost continue to build on to it. The goal is to join Hill 833 and Ma'on. If this happens then it is unlikely that it will be demolished by the Israeli government.

Maghayir Al Beed & Tuba: Two ancient sheparding villages in the hills surrounding At-Tuwani. School children from these two small villages have been attacked on their way to school by illegal Israeli settlers from the outpost and settlement that they must pass by to get to school.


Israel || South Hebron Hills || Tuwani School Map & Legend

South Hebron Hills

At-Tuwani School Route Map

At-Tuwani School Route Map Legend

At-Tuwani and Maghayir Al Beed

At-Tuwani || Maghayir Al Beed


At-Tuwani: An ancient village in the South Hebron Hills, Palestinian Territories. It is the location of the area school and school children from throughout the area come to At-Tuwani to go to school. Access to the school is difficult by children in the surrounding hills because of the illegal Israeli settlers living in the settlement of Ma'on and the outpost of Hill 833 who have attacked children on their way to school in At-Tuwani.

The view of Ma'on from At-Tuwani

The view of Hill 833 from At-Tuwani

The CPT was invited to be a part of an international presence in At-Tuwani, which is needed because of Ma'on and the outpost of Hill 833, both which are visible from At-Tuwani. Besides attacking school children, settlers from these two places will often walk through At-Tuwani and Tuba harassing villagers. They have also been documented killing sheep, poisoning the villages cisterns.

Electricity in At-Tuwani is only available in the village 2-4 hours a day. There is no running water in the village, all water comes from wells or the cistern.

The School is the building in the left center of the picture

The school in At-Tuwani has been demolished at least once already and is currently under a demolition order. Because of this very little investment has been made in to the infrastructure of the school. There is no electricity going to the school and each classroom has only the very basics - a few desks and chalkboards.

The Mosque in At-Tuwani

Maghayir Al Beed
Maghayir Al Beed is an ancient village in the remote South Hebron Hills. It is made up of approximately 3 homes that are caves that are built into the hills and were built during the Ottoman Empire.

Access to Maghayir Al Beed is through 3 routes - a long dirt road that isn't always passable, via goat trails across the hills from At-Tuwani, and via the road by Ma'on and Hill 833 to Tuba and then walking down from Tuba.

Brooke walking out to Maghayir Al Beed via the goat trails

The entrance to the home of the family Brooke stayed with in Maghayir Al Beed

The sleeping area inside the home.

Breakfast for the children is served!

There is no electricity or running water in Maghayir Al Beed.

Cooking in Maghayir Al Beed over a stove fueled by sheep dung.

Before we went to bed Cherice and Brooke got to share some special moments with the women in the family. One wonderful experience was exchanging Arabic words with English words.

Brooke, Anna, and Shanti's Mother (with Brooke's glasses on)

After awhile of doing this the oldest daughter, Anna, pulled out what we thought was her homework. We learned later that Anna no longer goes to school, because she is too old to go to to the school in At-Tuwani and her family cannot afford to send her to school in Yatta.

Cherice and Anna do English homework.

Anna with her English homework.

Early in the morning, around 5.30am, the family got up. By 6am the children were ready to go to school.

These are truly amazing children. The courage they exhibit each day as they simply walk to school should be admired. Read about Shanti's dream at: CPTnet: Dreaming of Paradise

During the Summer of 2008 the parents of the children of At-Tuwani, Tuba, and Maghayir Al Beed. decided to protest the treatment of the Palestinians by the residents of Ma'on and Hill 833. To do this they organized a protest march which was supported by their children along with the internationals stationed in Tuwani. More information about this march can be found at CPTnet: March from Tuba to At-Tuwani a success

East Jerusalem

East Jerusalem refers to the part of Jerusalem captured by Jordan in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and subsequently by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. (Wikipedia)

Following the 1967 Six-Day War, the eastern part of Jerusalem came under Israeli rule and was merged with the western municipality, together with several neighbouring West Bank villages. In November 1967, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 was passed, calling for Israel to withdraw "from territories occupied in the recent conflict". In 1980, the Knesset passed the Jerusalem Law which declared that "Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel", however, without specifying boundaries. This declaration was declared "null and void" by United Nations Security Council Resolution 478. (Wikipedia,

Following the 1967 annexation, Israel conducted a census in East Jerusalem and granted permanent Israeli residency to those Arab Jerusalemites present at the time of the census. Those not present lost the right to reside in Jerusalem. Jerusalem Palestinians were permitted to apply for Israeli citizenship, provided they met the requirements for naturalization -- such as swearing allegiance to Israel and renouncing all other citizenships -- which most of them refused to do. At the end of 2005, 93% of the Arab population of East Jerusalem had permanent residency and 5% had Israeli citizenship. (Wikipedia,

As residents, East Jerusalemites rejecting Israeli citizenship have the right to vote in municipal elections and play a role in the administration of the city. Residents pay taxes, and following a 1988 Israeli Supreme Court ruling, East Jerusalem residents are guaranteed the right to social security benefits and state health care. (Wikipedia,

An apartment building demolished by Israeli's because it didn't have a permit, which is nearly impossible to get

Schooling Crisis

"In June, The Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) submitted a petition to Israel's Supreme
Court to try to force the Jerusalem Municipality to provide adequate access to education in East

The petition quotes from a report commissioned by City Hall six years ago, which predicted a
shortage now of at least 1,500 classrooms.
As of last year, fewer than 200 had been built." (BBC, p. 2, )

"Only half of East Jerusalem's school children are enrolled in the state system." (BBC, p. 2, )

"An estimated 9,000 - more than one in 10 - are thought not to be going to any school." (BBC, p. 2, )

"In an e-mail to us, the Jerusalem board of education conceded that there was a shortfall in
classrooms, but they insisted that they were moving to solve the problems and that East
Jerusalem receives proportionally just as many resources as West Jerusalem.

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel disputes that. " (BBC, p. 2,

..although they [the Arab and Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem] are expected to pay the same local taxes as the more affluent neighbourhoods of Jewish West Jerusalem.

You might think that would give them the same provision of public services. It does not.

When it comes to education, East Jerusalem remains a class apart. " (BBC, p. 2-3, )

An Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem. The roads are good, there are parks, and adequate schools