The Jordan Valley, Ein Sukot: the severe heat paralyzes everyone

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Jordan Valley activists, Miki Fisher reporting

Accompaniment on Saturday went unhampered, perhaps because of the searing heat that has all the Valley’s residents fainting. However, the uncertainty when and how the settler or the Israeli army will attack create an unbearably exhausting tension.

I joined two of the accompaniers and A., the Palestinian shepherd from Al Farisiya, who moved for the summer with his flock to the En Hilwa area, plentiful with water, grains and grass that is still green. He and his shepherd friends graze Palestinian-owned land that is documented. First they grazed a field that had already been harvested, near road 90. This is the longest road in the country, stretching from Elat through the Arava valley, the Dead Sea and the Palestinian Jordan Valley, to the Jordan Valley all the way north to Metula.

When I arrived, the flock was beginning to cross westwards, on the bridge under Road 90, to a field of corn that had been harvested. The grazing went peacefully, and we even enjoyed a meal in the old style - flatbread with cheese and tomatoes from a nearby Palestinian field (with the owner’s permission…) and coffee. About two hours later the sheep began walking towards their improvised pen. A. told us that a day earlier, two settlers from Maskiyot, employed by the local council, came to photograph the place. Perhaps to intimidate the shepherds or perhaps for the sake of issuing a demolition order for the improvised pen that was put up there temporarily. Let us remember that this is land owned legally by Palestinians. The shepherds are constantly worried about settler attacks, by were willing to take the risk of confrontation - for every day with fresh grazing spares them purchasing very expensive feed.

The flock munched and we rested under the lone tree. Later we enjoyed an improvised breakfast with all the shepherds, until we were driven back to Al Farisiya.

N., too, went out to graze accompanied by two activists east of the Allon Road, not far from Humsa. This too went unhampered.

The other groups of shepherds came out to graze in various places and returned peacefully. Settler Neria was seen twice in his pickup truck, watching the shepherds from the road, but did not descend to actually harass them.

At 1 p.m. all accompaniers left except for me and Dani, who remained for protective presence. The heat exhausted to stayed at home, and no one was seen walking around the locality.

In a 3:30 p.m. phone call, M. informed us of a settler attack on the shepherds of a cattle flock drinking at the En Hilwa spring. We got there in ten minutes and managed to see the two settlers from Maskiyot colony leaving rapidly as they saw us.

One of the shepherds said the settlers held him by the throat and threatened him. He managed to escape and the event remained undocumented, of course, so he didn’t even consider lodging a complaint.

Before leaving Al Farisiya for home, we promised F. to return and accompany him whenever he wishes. Last week he didn’t want any accompaniment, probably because he had an agreement with the Israeli army not to bring accompaniers, as the army promised there would not be any harassment activity. F. confessed that he still needs help, and asked us to come when he waters his cattle.

According to the reports on the Jordan Valley activist network, harassments already began the following day.