Volunteers Attacked While Escorting Palestinian Children

Unidentified assailants attacked two American Christian volunteers who were escorting Palestinian schoolchildren on Wednesday morning near the Maon outpost south of Hebron.

The assailants beat the volunteers and robbed them. The two were taken by Israeli ambulance to Soroka Medical Center in Be'er Sheva.

The attackers, numbering four or five, were dressed in black and wore masks. They spoke English and were carrying chains and clubs.

The children fled the scene unharmed, but the attackers stole a bag belonging to female volunteer Kim Lamberty, 44, and broke her arm. The bag contained her passport, money and cellular phone.

The second volunteer, Chris Brown, 39, was beaten with chains, resulting in a punctured lung and external bleeding.

Both volunteers are affiliated with the Christian Peacemakers Teams (CPT), which escorts Palestinian schoolchildren who live with their families in caves in the village of Tuba to their primary school in the village of Al-Tuwani, about a half-hour walk away.

The road along which the volunteers and schoolchildren pass is used by settlers and is forbidden to Palestinian vehicular traffic. Palestinian pedestrians, however, are permitted to use the road.

However, the schoolchildren are afraid to pass unescorted through the area because of what they describe as harassment by area Jewish settlers.

Lamberty told Haaretz that the children spotted the masked strangers first, as they approached from the Maon area, shouted and fled the scene. She said the aggressors first assaulted Brown, beat him with a chain and kicked him. When she tried to get help on the cell phone they knocked her to the ground and beat her up. She heard them saying in English "take her phone."