On Saturday, messianic settlers affiliated with the Gush Emunim movement (block of faithful) from the small colony of Maon south of Hebron assaulted Palestinian children with stones twice, injuring four children.

One child suffered a head injury, according to Palestinian sources.
 
The settlers attacked children first in the morning when they went to school and again in the afternoon as they returned home.
 
The Israeli security forces did not arrest any of the attackers.

Settler strategy
 
The settlers, whose ultimate goal is to coerce Palestinian villagers to abandon their land, have in recent days escalated their attacks on Palestinians, especially the inhabitants of the small village of Tuwani.

The settlers want the Palestinians
to leave their villages

Last week, children from the neighbouring village of Tuba were attacked by settlers on their way back from school.
 
The children waited at least three hours for an Israeli army escort as settlers blocked the road.

None of the settlers was arrested.
 
"They (the settlers) were carrying stones, clubs and some sharp objects. They behaved in a way suggesting that they would want to slaughter the children. These people are really sick," said Ahmed Hasan, the father of one of the stranded children.
 
In Hebron, Jewish settlers have been attacking Palestinian schoolchildren, especially in the vicinity of a Jewish settler building on the western edge of the old town, known as Dabboya.

Volunteers attacked
 
A fortnight ago, 15 settlers attacked the Cordoba (Cordova) Girls school. Students of the school are normally escorted by foreign peace volunteers.
 
According to two volunteers - Karin Laier from Germany and Tore Ottsen from Norway - the settlers threw stones at the girls and the volunteers. Laier and Ottsen were hit.
 
Three other peace activists working with the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) were attacked by the same group of settlers. A 79-year-old activist was among those assaulted.
 
On April 1, settlers assaulted and seriously injured Silvana Hogg, a Swiss activist.
 
According to the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel, which sends international volunteers to accompany Palestinian schoolchildren to and from school, the latest incidents are part of a wave of settler attacks in the region around Hebron.
 
The Israeli occupation army said it is doing everything it can to maintain law and order.

The governor of Hebron accuses
the Israeli army of complicity

"The armed forces do everything they could to maintain the peace. However, settler behaviours and possible attacks on Palestinians and foreigners are for the police to deal with," a local Israeli civil administration official to Al Jazeera.net.

Israeli inaction
 
Arif al Jabari, the governor of Hebron, accused the army of "effectively conspiring with the settlers against the Palestinians".
 
"You see this city has an Arab population of 182,000 Arabs and some 450 fanatic Jewish settlers. The Israeli army, which deploys hundreds if not thousands of troops here, knows very well what the settlers are doing but does next to nothing to stop them.
 
"And when the victims go to the Israeli police to complain, they are told to produce miraculous evidence that would indict the settlers, like the name of the settlers involved in the attacks, their ID numbers."

Settler leaders in Hebron declined to be interviewed for this report.