Sunday, March 24

Palestinians walk Hebron pupils to school after monitors leave

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An Israeli soldier (left) stands guard as members of the Palestinian Youth Against Settlements (YAS) activists escort children on their way to school in the occupied West Bank town of Hebron. — AFP photo

HEBRON, Palestinian Territories: Palestinians in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron walked children to school Sunday, saying protecting them from Israeli settlers was necessary following the withdrawal of international monitors.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced last month he would not renew the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), accusing it of bias. The mission left on Jan 31.

It was established after a massacre of Palestinians in 1994 and Palestinian officials warned the withdrawal of the international monitors could increase abuses by settlers in the city.

Palestinians from the Youth Against Settlements organisation accompanied children to schools in vests with the word “observer” written in English, Arabic and Hebrew, an AFP photographer said.

“Today we started a local campaign to document violations that children going to school are subject to in this area where there are always settlers and the occupation army,” Issa Amro from the organisation told AFP.

“We will not replace the international observers, but we try as much as we can to make sure that the children go to school.”

Small scuffles broke out between Israeli settlers, the Palestinians ands Israeli soldiers during the walk, the AFP journalist said.

TIPH was created after 29 Palestinian worshippers in a mosque were gunned down by an American-born Israeli settler.

Observers carried out daily patrols and document rights abuses they witness, although they were not allowed to intervene. —AFP