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Other transcription(s)
 • Arabic ﺍﻟتﻮﺍﻧﻲ
 • Also spelled Tuwani (official)
At-Tuwani is located in the Palestinian territories
Location of At-Tuwani within Palestine
Coordinates: 31°24′51″N 35°09′11″E / 31.41417°N 35.15306°E / 31.41417; 35.15306Coordinates: 31°24′51″N 35°09′11″E / 31.41417°N 35.15306°E / 31.41417; 35.15306
Population (2007)
 • Jurisdiction 326
Name meaning "The ruin of delay"[1]

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 kilometer 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.[2][3]


Byzantine pottery has been found at Khirbet at-Tuwani.[4]

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 building being a synagogue. Today the village is mainly made by ancient houses from the Ottoman time, often surmounting 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 long was found with a winged tablet on it. Near the ruin was a round olive-press, 7 feet diameter, 10 inches deep, with a rim 5 inches 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.[5]

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.[6]


Cave houses in at-Tawani

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.[7] 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.[8]

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.[9]

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.[10]


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 kilometers and often there is a military check-point along the road.

Israeli occupation[edit]

Israeli settlement[edit]

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.[11]

In 2001, settlers built the outpost Havat Ma'on (also named Hill 833 or Tel Abu Jundiya) on the other side of the road.[11] 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.[11]

Settler attacks[edit]

Since 2004, the human rights groups Christian Peacemaker Teams and Operazione Colomba (Operation Dove) monitor the settler violence in the Hebron Governorate.[12] 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[edit]

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.[13] In February 2005, settlers from Havat Ma'on/Hill 833 attacked CPT and Dove members while accompanying shepherds and severely injured one of them.[13]

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.[13]

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.[14]

During Israeli military training, Palestinian owned fields and crops are repeatedly damaged and destroyed.[15]

Attacks on schoolchildren[edit]

In At-Tuwani is the only school of the area, with around 100 children. Many of them go to school walking for 2 kilometers 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 meters 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.[16] Two days later, the escort was severely injured in an ambush near the outpost Ma'on Ranch.[16][17]

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.[16][18] The IDF escorts, however, did not function properly. Sometimes, the soldiers came to late, sometimes, they did not come at all.[16] Frequently, the group was even attacked in the presence of the soldiers.[18] In 2008 settlers erected an automatic gate 300 meters 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.[19]

As of 2014, still systematic violence against the Palestinian and human rights monitors in the area is reported.[20]

House demolitions[edit]

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.[21]

On 2 March 2014, Israeli officials and army stopped the building of a new kindergarten in At-Tuwani. Building materials were confiscated.[22]


  1. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 431
  2. ^ Palestinians say troops tracking missing goats searched their homes illegally Haaretz, 27 January 2010
  3. ^ Settlers suspected of well attack, BBC News, 13 July 2004.
  4. ^ Dauphin, 1998, p.969
  5. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1883, SWP III, p. 410
  6. ^ At Tuwani & Mosfaret Yatta Profile. Applied Research Institute-Jerusalem (ARIJ). 2009.
  7. ^ "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. 
  8. ^ Bloggers get Palestinian village water, Ynet.
  9. ^ Palestinians evicted from Hebron hills HaAretz, 30 April 2004
  10. ^ David Hirst, West Bank villagers’ daily battle with Israel over water,' at The Guardian, 14 September 2011.
  11. ^ a b c The dangerous road to education, pp. 28-29. Christian Peacemaker Teams, December 2010.
  12. ^ AtTuwani Project on YouTube Operazione Colomba is an international peace organization, which has active presence in Palestine and Israel since 2004.Operazione Colomba
  13. ^ a b c Kern, As Resident Aliens: Christian Peacemaker Teams in the West Bank, p. 267-269.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Masafer Yatta: Israeli military training damages Palestinian harvest. Operazione Colomba, 14 May 2014
  16. ^ a b c d As Resident Aliens: Christian Peacemaker Teams in the West Bank, pp 255,258-267. Kathleen Kern, Wipf & Stock Pub, 2010
  17. ^ ′Jewish settlers′ attack US workers. BBC, 29 September 2004
  18. ^ a b A Dangerous Journey:Settler Violence Against Palestinian schoolchildren Under Israeli Military Escort2006-2008. CPT/Operation Dove August 2008. On [1]
  19. ^ The dangerous road to education, pp. 11-12.
  20. ^ 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
  21. ^ Six shelters demolished by the Israeli forces in the Palestinian village of At Tuwani. Operazione Colomba, 3 April 2014. Video on YouTube
  22. ^ South Hebron Hills Popular Committee nonviolently prevents Israeli forces from halting construction of a kindergarten. Operazione Colomba, 6 March 2014


External links[edit]