Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Trigger Finger

EAPPI Providing Protective Presence for School Children in Tuqu

EAPPI started providing a protective presence for this school because of repeated incidents.  The school is a mixed primary school (400 students) a girls secondary school (260) student and a boys secondary school (520 students.)
Four students from this school have been killed, the last one in 2008.  

The soldiers were threatening children and forcing them to show the contents of their bags.  Several boys were arrested and detained including a 4th grade child. 

Since 2011 EAPPI has been involved in a protective presence at this school.  .  In September 2012, EAPPI Joined with UNICEF in a program to monitor access to education. The “school run” as we refer to it is shared between team members.  

We place ourselves where we can see the children and the soldiers. 

For some unknown reason, on Tuesday, the soldiers did not like where we were standing.  
He came up to me and asked what I was doing there.  He did not like my answer, “Providing a protective presence for the school children.”  

He said I had to move back by the sign and pointed up the road.   He is the person with his finger on the trigger so I moved up the road a bit.

Personally I wanted to say, “Who do you think you are talking to.  My country provides your country with over $500,000,000,000 each year.  If it were not for my tax dollars, your country and this situtation would be very different.  Obviously, I did not say, anything like that since EAPPI is neutral in the conflict, but not neutral about human right violations.  The truth is, USA sends billions of our tax dollars each year to Israel.   

The soldier asked to see the pictures on my camera and I obliged.  We are not to take photos of military unless they are committing human rights violations so my camera did not incriminate me.  However, in my heart of hearts, this whole occupation is a human right violation.  

The occupation is illegal under international law.

As the children walk to school, they have to walk past military personnel with assault rifles, fingers always on the triggers.

Should children have to walk past assault rifles coming and going to elementary school? 

I think busy roads should be the only danger children need to face.

The soldier also went down to my teammate and told her this area was now a military zone and she would have to leave.

Our cab driver took my teammate to the other side of the hill where she could still see what was happening.

The soldier came back to me and asked, “What sign do you think I meant?”  Oops guess I was not down the road far enough for him.  I am not one to argue with a trigger finger, I moved on down.  
Tomorrow we will be doing another school run.  This soldier saga, to be continued….

Pray for a JUST Peace in the Middle East!