Jordan valley Dir J`arir: One little battle won today

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Arik Asherman (driving) Rita Mendes-Flohr (reporting)

5.30 am to 9.30 am

Settlers from the outpost of Ma'ale Shlomo, adjacent to the settlement of Rimonim, have been consistently bringing their sheep to graze on land that is cultivated by shepherds from Dir J'rir. Today our presence kept the settlers at a distance - we saw them coming over the ridge, just as the sun was coming up on this hazy, hamsin day, but this time they did not go down into the cultivated valley. Perhaps because we were there, or because we arrived there first.

One of the Palestinian shepherds remarked "why don't they stay near their outpost, there is so much land around there, whey do they have to come here, in our valley?". But that is exactly the point - herding sheep in another tactic of settlers to expand their control over the occupied territories - sheep can go far and wide, driving the Palestinians further and further away, so that in the end Area C will be free of Palestinians, which works fine in the eyes of the Israeli authorities, without them having to do the dirty work of expulsion themselves.

Most of the Palestinian herds left very early, on this day that was supposed to reach record temperatures, but the settlers remained across the valley. We feared they would go down into the cultivated fields, and so we stayed on, standing in positions that were clearly visible to them, until, they too started to move away. One little battle won today. But we know they will be back, and so we too will return.

On our way home, we drove by two other cultivated Palestinian fields near Rimonim, to make sure no settler herds were grazing there.