SOUTH HEBRON HILLS: Israeli military detains driver, confiscates vehicle donated for transport of schoolchildren in South Hebron Hills

Children being denied an education due to the restrictions on movement imposed on Palestinians in the South Hebron Hills. Due to the restrictions of movement around settlements and firing zones, Palestinians are required to make large detours to get to their destination, or are denied permits to drive vehicles. The UNOCHA report on West Bank movement and access (Special Focus) details the impacts on both urban and rural communities of these restrictions.

This story from the Christian Peacemaker Teams based in the South Hebron Hills describes the impacts on education these punitive measures are having:

 

On 18 November 2013 at 11:00, Mufid Abu Qbeita—the driver for the students who live in the South Hebron Hills area that the Israeli military has designated as “Firing Zone 918”—was driving children back to their homes from Al Fakheit school.  Israeli Security Forces and representatives of the Israeli Civil Administration stopped him near Al-Sfai, one of the villages in the Firing Zone, while he had a child in the car.

Soldiers took his ID and detained him for thirty minutes; afterwards, they told him to follow them to Gush Etzion Police Station.  Two soldiers accompanied Abu Qbeita in the car.  He had to leave the child in Al-Sfai.

Abu Qbeita informed the soldiers that the jeep belonged to the Palestinian Ministry of Education and was donated by Japan, but they still forced him to drive to the settlement of Gush Etzion.  After several hours, they released him, but the jeep remains at the police station.  When Abu Qbeita asked why the soldiers had confiscated the jeep, they answered, “Because you were driving in the firing zone of the South Hebron Hills which is not allowed.”

CPT, EAPPI and Operation Dove take turns accompanying Abu Qbeita and the SUV from the city of Yatta into the Firing Zone during the week, in order to prevent incidents like the above occurring, but until recently, once in the zone, he had not faced problems.  On 27 October, eight Israeli soldiers detained him, verbally abused him, and then beat him on his abdomen, face, and back.  Afterwards, they forced him drive over spikes used to stop vehicles at army checkpoints to puncture the SUV’s tires.

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