Uja: Threatened pastoralism

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Nurit Bodinsky, Eti Yechieli, Michal Bentov, Micki Fisher (report)

We arrived at the Diyuk village in the Auja area, situated near the colony Mevo’ot Yericho and a new colonist outpost erected about 4 months ago and receiving all its necessities from the colony, with the sole purpose of dispossessing the Palestinian shepherds’ grazing grounds.

We met the four flocks accompanied by two shepherdesses and two shepherds who arrived from their homes in the villages of Diyuk and Nu’eima opposite – on the road passing from Diyukl to Nu’eimea, towards the ravine.

Michal and Micki accompanied the flocks along the ravine towards Havat Omer. Nurit and Eti continued by car to the hill overlooking the entire area opposite Havat Omer, waiting for the flocks. This time we did not run into any colonists and the flocks proceeded in their swift but peaceful pace towards the hills and ravines around Havat Omer and the road. The areas there are already green and have grown grass after the recent rains. The flocks enjoyed the grass and scattered all around.

The apparent peacefulness is but a mirage. The shepherds/shepherdesses do not dare to approach the road not cross it over to the side of the illegal Havat Omer outpost, even though the grass there is greener and fuller, and there is no legal reason not to graze there. Today the army and colonists did not harass, did not even show up, but every vehicle or ATV that passed even 100 meters from us made the shepherds tense and alert. Still, four pastoral hours went by with the flocks as we moved from one to the other, spoke with the shepherds about this and that, and about the harassment by the army and colonists who are trying to chase them away from the grounds they have been grazing for years.

We had to leave at noon while the shepherds and flocks, feeling safe that day, remained another two hours on the ground. We checked on them later – they all got back home safely!

Another day under the horrible occupation went unhampered. May it continue this way, although neither the Palestinians nor we have any illusions about this. The struggle continues every day, and there’s no letting up.