Saturday, August 22 2009 Escorting Shepherds and Improving Access Roads Condition At Umm al-Kheir

After peacefully escorting shepherds early in the morning at Umm Zeituni (South Hebron Hills), we resumed our work to improve the inner access road in Umm al Kheir. Soldiers arrived shortly thereafter and ordered us to stop. As we did not comply with this strange demand, and insisted on proceeding with the work at least until the arrival of Israel Land Administrations officials with an explicit written order, they prepared a ‘closed military zone’ order on the spot and ordered us to leave. Since staying on would have subjected the Palestinians to the threat of detention, we decided to comply. Still, even the hour that we did manage to devote to clearing rocks and filling potholes considerably improved the state of this dirt track that serves the villagers as their sole connection with the world outside. For international volunteers of the World Council of Churches this was an opportunity to witness the arbitrary and one-sided application of force by the Occupation army authorities, who prevent even the minutest improvement in the most fundamental living conditions of Palestinians while ignoring the massive construction and road-paving endeavors ongoing at the neighboring colonies and ‘illegal outposts’.