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American peace activist attacked by Israeli settler children near Hebron

July 27, 2008 4:53 P.M. (Updated: July 27, 2008 4:53 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - An American peace activist with the Christian Peacemaker Teams was attacked on Sunday by Israeli settlers near Hebron.

A team of foreign activists was escorting a group of Palestinian children from Tuba and Maghaer Al-Abeed home from their summer camp in the nearby town of At Tuwani. The most direct road from the villages to At Tuwani is through the illegal Israeli settlement Ma'on south of Hebron.

As the group passed through the settlement some of the settler children began throwing stones at Palestinian children. One activist ran ahead to usher the kids to safety, and another, Joel Gulledge, followed behind the group and filmed the attack.

Gulledge was swarmed by the settler children, who hit him with stones, took his camera and beat him with it. He sustained moderate head injuries and was taken to hospital for treatment.

The group of activists has been escorting the children after Israeli soldiers stopped showing up in the mornings to take the kids to their summer camp. According to a CPT press release, the mayor of At Tuwani had spoken with Israeli military officials to coordinate the escort for the children. However, several military spokespersons and soldiers on the ground denied being ordered to escort the children.

Escorts had been taking place, however, until 22 July when soldiers did not show up to see the children safely to their summer camp.

In 2004 the Israeli Knesset recommended that the Israeli military carry out a daily escort of the children of Tuba and Maghaer Al-Abeed to their school in At Tuwani in response to settler violence against them. In 2006 Israeli Minister of Defense stated that the illegal outpost of Havot Ma'on should be dismantled because of the settlers' violence towards school children. During the 2007-2008 school year, settlers used violence against these children on at least 14 occasions.

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