Ein Sachot North of the Jordan Valley: Shepherd escort

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(1) Palestinian Jordan Valley (northern part, En Sukut) MW accompanying Palestinian shepherds Michal Wiener, Nurit Budinsky, Miki Fisher (reporting) We left Tel Aviv at 4:30 a.m. and reached En Sukut – an area of springs in the northern Palestinian Jordan

We left Tel Aviv at 4:30 a.m. and reached En Sukut – an area of springs in the northern Palestinian Jordan Valley at 6:30 a.m., slightly after sunrise.

We were welcomed by Palestinian shepherd A., his wife and four children, who were already washed and combed for school. They walk about a kilometer and a half from their encampment to the road, where they are picked up by the local transport to school in the village of A-Shibli.

They insisted we have tea before going out to graze, and then we walked with A. for anout 3 km in a rocky field, down a riverbed and uphill to a stubbly field that had been mown at the end of the summer but still had some hay and a few green bushes for the sheep to feed on. We stopped in mid-field, the sheep scattered around us and ate peacefully.

At 8 a.m. A’s wife called to say the school transport did not arrive. Ahmad said it’s already the third day that it has not come, and he complains every day. He called the transport company who said the bus was out of order, but they would provide for school transport on the morrow. The children remained home another day without school.

At 8:30 Ahmad was called by his 4-month-pregnant wife, saying she was not feeling well. He summoned his eldest son (11-years-old) and his elderly and ailing father to replace him and left quickly to take his wife to hospital in Toubas. We were left with his father and son.

The flock continued to graze but at a certain point began to descend towards the border with Jordan. The grandfather with the son hurried on donkey back to stop the sheep from reaching the border and summoning the Israeli army.

Opposite us we saw the ploughed and green fields of settler-colony Shadmot Mekhola, irrigated with water provided by Mekorot (Israeli National Waterworks). According to A. usually they do not harass the Palestinians but about a month ago a settler-colonist ran over a sheep and since then he has been requesting regular accompaniment in order to get from home to a reasonable grazing ground.

A’s flock “voted with its feet” and around 10 a.m. began to hurry towards a water tanker for which he pays an exorbitant price, where the sheep quench their thirst after grazing, and then hurry to the track they know under the bridge of the main road in order to rest from the day’s heat. In the afternoon they would graze again around the encampment.

The heat that day was extraordinary and we returned on foot, rather exhausted, all the way to the encampment. The grandmother would not let us leave without drinking cold water and tea, and we barely managed to refuse joining their lunch.

We returned to Tel Aviv around 2 p.m.