|• Also spelled||Tuwani (official)|
|Name meaning||"The ruin of delay"|
At-Tuwani (Arabic: ﺍﻟتﻮﺍﻧﻲ or ﺍﻟتوانة) is a small Palestinian village in the south Hebron Hills of the Hebron Governorate. Many of the village’s residents live in caves. The village is located south-east of the village of Yatta. Approximately one kilometre (0.62 miles) away lies Tel Tuwani, near the illegal Israeli settlement of Ma’on. Frequent disputes occur between At-Tuwani’s residents and settlers over land, roads and water resources.
Byzantine pottery has been found at Khirbet at-Tuwani.
The village of at-Tuwani is built on the ruins of Khirbet at-Tuwani. In an archeological survey conducted in 1968 several edifices and fences were noted; some pottery findings on site were traced to the Byzantine era and Middle Ages. Most of the archeological findings were since removed. In 2011, an Archeological excavation led by Israeli Authority has found the remain of a church dating back to the Byzantine time, but not evidences of the building being a synagogue. Today the village mainly consists of ancient houses from the Ottoman time, often build over the more ancient caves.
In the 1883 the Palestine Exploration Fund's Survey of Western Palestine, the place (named Khürbet Tûâny) was described as:
Foundations and walls; a circular masonry well, and rock-cut tombs now blocked. A lintel stone 6 feet (1.8 metres) long was found with a winged tablet on it. Near the ruin was a round olive-press, 7 feet (2.1 metres) diameter, 10 inches (250 mm) deep, with a rim 5 inches (130 mm) thick. It was cut in a sort of sunken platform of the live rock, with a socket for a pole or pillar in the centre of the press.
In the early 19th century, many residents of the two big villages in the area of South Mount Hebron, Yatta and Dura, started to immigrate to ruins and caves in the area and became 'satellite villages' (daughters) to the mother town. Reasons for the expansion were lack of land for agriculture and construction in the mother towns which resulted in high prices of land, rivalry between the mother towns' chamulas wishing to control more land and resources, and being a security buffer, which made it more difficult for gangs of robbers to raid the mother villages. Caves are used by locals as residences, storage spaces and sheepfolds. The affiliation between the satellite villages and the mother town remained. While some of the satellites became permanent villages with communities of hundreds, others remained temporary settlements which served the shepherds and fallāḥīn for several months every year. In 1981-2 it was estimated 100-120 families dwelt in caves permanently in the South Mount Hebron region while 750-850 families lived there temporarily.
At-Tuwani had a population of 127 at the Jordanian census of 1961. In a census conducted by Israel after it occupied the West Bank in the Six-day War, the village was reported to have 175 residents in 33 households.
In 1994 a seven-member village council was established to administer the civil affairs of at-Tuwani and the nearby hamlets of Faqra and Tuba. At-Tuwani currently serves as the center of sorts for the two hamlets as well as for the 19 Bedouin localities of Masafer Yatta.
As of February 2011 there is no running water in the village of At-Tuwani, while Israeli settlements and outposts are connected to the Israeli water system. At-Tuwani’s residents frequently petition the Israeli military administration and the Israeli Civil Administration, as well as the Israeli Water Commission to supply them with the necessary infrastructure.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Bimkom – Planners for Planning Rights Association have recently joined the residents’ efforts by petitioning Deputy Minister of Defense, Matan Vilnai, to connect the village to running water. The village is located in Area C (under the Oslo Accords) and is thus subject to Israeli jurisdiction for all civilian matters. Israeli Parliament (Knesset) Members Haim Oron (of Meretz party) and Dov Khenin (of Hadash party) committed to petitioning the Ministry of Defense regarding connecting the village to running water. About two months later, In July 2010, the Civil Administration announced the village is going to be connected to running water.
In addition to lacking water infrastructure and running water, At-Tuwani residents suffer from infringements concerning their rights to shelter. Most of the residents’ houses and lands are not included in the Israeli Civil Administration’s master plan for the region, submitted for authorization (yet to be legally endorsed). Several residents have submitted their objection to this plan, and are currently struggling to prevent their homes from being demolished on their lands, after villagers’ houses have been demolished in the past.
According to David Hirst, the inhabitants of al-Amniyr, at-Tuwani and the other villages that comprise Susiya, are faced with a catch-22. If they comply with the law they cannot build cisterns and collect even the rainwater. But if they fail to work their lands, they lose it anyway.
In 2005 a clinic for the region’s residents was built thanks to a European NGO; the clinic building also houses a museum commemorating non-violent resistance to the Israeli occupation in the region and a Media Lab for the youth. The Civil Administration didn't respond the many requests to build it, and declared the building illegal and stopped the construction work many times; in the end the Civil Administration issued a written document where stated the "future declaration of the construction permit". Today, a doctor is present at the clinic once a week. Many people from the villages located south of At-Tuwani use this service, since the closest hospital is distant 10 kilometres (6.2 miles) and often there is a military check-point along the road.
In 1982, the settlement Ma'on was built on one side of the main road, the only viable road, between At-Tuwani and Tuba. In the late 1990s, Palestinians using the main road and other land nearby increasingly came under attack from violent settlers.
In 2001, settlers built the outpost Havat Ma'on (also named Hill 833 or Tel Abu Jundiya) on the other side of the road. By 2003, Palestinians stopped using the main road completely. Settlers from Ma'on fenced off private Palestinian lands by the road and now use the land for agricultural purposes.
In 2005/2006, the settlers expanded a chicken farm south of Hill 833. In 2008, the location was fenced, impeding vehicular traffic on the road. In 2009, new caravans were placed near Ma'on, on a slope north of the road and laid the foundations for 12 buildings. In March 2010, the settlers built houses in the new outpost.
Since 2004, the human rights groups Christian Peacemaker Teams and Operazione Colomba (Operation Dove) monitor the settler violence in the Hebron Governorate. Despite the violence they face, the whole community in At-Tuwani and surrounding villages are active in non-violent action and training.
Attacks on shepherds and farmers
People in At-Tuwani and in the neighboring villages are mainly shepherds and farmers. They are often attacked by extremist violent Israeli settlers belonging to the national-religious movement. Christian Peacemaker Team members and Dove members have accompanied shepherds and farmers during their work to monitor settlers violence. In February 2005, settlers from Havat Ma'on/Hill 833 attacked CPT and Dove members while accompanying shepherds and severely injured one of them.
In 2005, poison-covered barley was laid around Ma'on, where villagers usually graze their sheep and near one of At-Tuwani's water sources. Many animals – sheep, goats and wild fauna – were poisoned and died. The Israeli police refused to examine the poison.
In 2011, settlers from the outpost of Havat Ma'on attacked internationals and Palestinians five times within 30 days. On 13 July, three settler youth attacked Palestinian shepherds. On 18 July, 3 masked settlers armed with clubs attacked two shepherds and members of the At-Tuwani peace team.
During Israeli military training, Palestinian owned fields and crops are repeatedly damaged and destroyed.
Attacks on schoolchildren
In At-Tuwani is the only school of the area, with around 100 children. Many of them go to school walking for 2 kilometres (1.2 miles) or more. Around 20 children from the villages of Tuba and Maghaer Al Abeed often risk to be attacked by extremist Israeli settlers from Havat Ma'on (Hill 833), an outpost of settlers located at 500 metres (1,600 feet) from At-Tuwani. On 27 September 2004, a joint team of CPT members and the international organization Operazione Colomba (Operation Dove) began escorting Palestinian schoolchildren on their way on the route to school. Two days later, the escort was severely injured in an ambush near the outpost Ma'on Ranch.
As settler attacks continued, the Knesset Committee for Children Rights declared that the children had the right to take the shortest route to school at the Ma'on settlement and issued a request to the IDF (Israeli Army) to protect the children walking to and from the school of At-Tuwani. The IDF escorts, however, did not function properly. Sometimes, the soldiers came to late, sometimes, they did not come at all. Frequently, the group was even attacked in the presence of the soldiers. In 2008 settlers erected an automatic gate 300 metres (980 feet) from the junction at the chicken farm, where the meeting point used to be. Rather than removing the gate, the IDF escorts no longer protected the children beyond the gate. The IDF contended that their jeeps could not pass the gate. However, it turned out that they could in case they wanted to act against Palestinians.
The school in At-Tuwani has a demolition order. The mosque and some houses got a demolition order as well. On 2 April 2014, the Israeli army together with some Border Police and District Coordination Office (DCO) officers demolished 6 concrete shelters in At-Tuwani.
On 2 March 2014, Israeli officials and army stopped the building of a new kindergarten in At-Tuwani. Building materials were confiscated.
- Palmer, 1881, p. 431
- Palestinians say troops tracking missing goats searched their homes illegally Haaretz, 27 January 2010
- Settlers suspected of well attack, BBC News, 13 July 2004.
- Dauphin, 1998, p.969
- Conder and Kitchener, 1883, SWP III, p. 410
- Havakook, Yaakov (1985). Live in the caves of Mount Hebron. pp. 25–31.
- Grossman, David (1994). Expansion and Desertion: The Arab Village and Its Offshoots in Ottoman Palestine. Yad Izhak Ben-Zvi. p. 226.
- Havakook p.65
- Government of Jordan, Department of Statistics (1964). First Census of Population and Housing. Volume I: Final Tables; General Characteristics of the Population. p. 21.
- Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (1967–1970). Joel Perlmann, ed. "The 1967 Census of the West Bank and Gaza Strip: A Digitized Version". Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, 2011–2012. Volume 1, Table 2.
- At Tuwani & Mosfaret Yatta Profile. Applied Research Institute-Jerusalem (ARIJ). 2009.
- "Knesset Members Oron's and Khenin's question to the Israeli Minister of Defense" (in Hebrew). The Association for Civil Rights in Israel site. Archived from the original on 6 March 2012.
- Bloggers get Palestinian village water, Ynet.
- Palestinians evicted from Hebron hills HaAretz, 30 April 2004
- David Hirst, West Bank villagers’ daily battle with Israel over water,' at The Guardian, 14 September 2011.
- The dangerous road to education[permanent dead link], pp. 28-29. Christian Peacemaker Teams, December 2010.
- AtTuwani Project on YouTube Operazione Colomba is an international peace organization, which has active presence in Palestine and Israel since 2004.Operazione Colomba
- Kern, As Resident Aliens: Christian Peacemaker Teams in the West Bank, p. 267-269.
- AT-TUWANI: Three settlers of Havat Ma'on attack internationals in Meshakha Valley, South Hebron Hills. CPTnet, 19 July 2011. Including photo's and video.
- Masafer Yatta: Israeli military training damages Palestinian harvest. Operazione Colomba, 14 May 2014
- As Resident Aliens: Christian Peacemaker Teams in the West Bank, pp 255,258-267. Kathleen Kern, Wipf & Stock Pub, 2010
- ′Jewish settlers′ attack US workers. BBC, 29 September 2004
- A Dangerous Journey:Settler Violence Against Palestinian schoolchildren Under Israeli Military Escort2006-2008. CPT/Operation Dove August 2008. On 
- The dangerous road to education[permanent dead link], pp. 11-12.
- Palestinian girl badly injured by Israeli settler attack. Operazione Colomba, 24 April 2014; International volunteer attacked and injured by Israeli army, 15 April 2014; The Israeli military escort didn’t accompany Palestinian schoolchildren, 11 April 2014; Palestinian schoolchildren attacked by Israeli settlers, in South Hebron Hills, 9 April 2014
- Six shelters demolished by the Israeli forces in the Palestinian village of At Tuwani. Operazione Colomba, 3 April 2014. Video on YouTube
- South Hebron Hills Popular Committee nonviolently prevents Israeli forces from halting construction of a kindergarten. Operazione Colomba, 6 March 2014
- Conder, Claude Reignier; Kitchener, H. H. (1883). The Survey of Western Palestine: Memoirs of the Topography, Orography, Hydrography, and Archaeology. 3. London: Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund.
- Dauphin, Claudine (1998). La Palestine byzantine, Peuplement et Populations. BAR International Series 726 (in French). III : Catalogue. Oxford: Archeopress.
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- Welcome To Tuwani
- Survey of Western Palestine, Map 25: IAA, Wikimedia commons
- At Tuwani & Mosafaret Yatta Village Fact sheet, Applied Research Institute–Jerusalem (ARIJ)
- At Tuwani & Mosafaret Yatta Village Profile, ARIJ
- At Tuwani Aerial photo, ARIJ
- The priorities and needs for development in Tuwani village based on the community and local authorities’ assessment, ARIJ
- AtTuwani Project on YouTube. Hebron Christian Peacemaker Team and Operation Dove (Operazione Colomba)