Each day, schoolchildren travel from across Masafer Yatta to the village of Atuwani to attend school. However, what should have been a beautiful and calm walk across the landscape became a stressful and anxiety-inducing journey after the theft of Palestinian land and the creation of Ma’on and Havat Ma’on, two Israeli settlements which disrupted the journey. From the time of the settlements’ creation, masked settlers living in these areas regularly began attacking schoolchildren - and anyone who came to accompany them.
Forced to walk a difficult path past radical settler outposts, Youth of Sumud walks the children to school everyday to make sure the children feel safe and protected.
Following a particularly violent assault on the Palestinian children and a couple of international volunteers, in 2004 the Israeli military agreed to begin “escorting” the children across the most dangerous section of the road. More than eighteen years later, the children still face constant attacks and violence at the hands of Israeli settlers as they travel to and from their schools. Even when the military arrives on time to escort the children, they remain in their vehicle and leave the children to follow behind, making them vulnerable to settlers and sometimes forcing them to run after the jeep. When the soldiers do not arrive on time, the children are forced to wait for them for hours sometimes, enduring the hot sun in the summer or freezing rain and wind in the winter.
As part of our dedication to Palestinians’ presence on the land, as well as our strong belief in the children’s right to education, Youth of Sumud regularly accompanies the children in these journeys - sometimes even accompanying the group to school or home when the military does not show up at all. Still, on the days when the military happens to arrive, they do their best to prevent us from escorting the children and have gone as far as arresting one of our members in this effort. Nonetheless, Youth of Sumud remains committed to supporting Palestinian children’s right to education and freedom of movement not only in our own communities but across all of Palestine.