The Israeli group Peace Now held a protest tour Friday near the illegal Israeli settlement of Maon farm, near the West Bank City of Hebron, following the violent behaviour of the Israeli settlers in recent weeks, against school children of Umm-Tuba village.

The group said, in a press release, that hundreds of its members will tour the area and protest the settlers’ flagrant disregard for the rule of law and to demand the outpost’s immediate removal.

The Palestinian children of the village of Umm-Tuba walk daily to and from school in the neighbouring village of Khirbat al-Tawani, between two Israeli settlements: ‘Maon Farm’ and the illegal outpost of Havat Maon. They have long been subject to harassment by the colonisers.  The children are often spat upon by settlers, or have rocks thrown at them, and a number have been beaten badly by Israeli settler youth and adults.

Despite the violence and the resulting injuries, not one coloniser has been arrested by Israel in the attacks on Umm-Tuba’s children. Neither the army nor the Israeli and international activists who also accompany the children to school have succeeded in thwarting the attacks.  In many cases, the Israeli army has been standing by watching while settlers beat and attacked Palestinian schoolchildren and internationals, doing nothing to stop the settlers.

At the same time, more than 30 prominent Israeli artists and intellectuals signed a letter sent Tuesday to Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, urging him to order Israeli soldiers to defend Palestinian children in the southern Hebron Hills from colonisers of ‘Maon Farm’.

"Beyond the disgrace that a military escort is necessary for small children who are powerless in the face of the attackers, it seems the escort in its current format is not enough to protect the children. The subjection of elementary school children to attacks of lawbreakers in the absence of proper defense is unbearable," said the letter.