Al-Farisiya, Jordan Valley - Escorting Shepherds and Families

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Mickey, Rachel, Translation: Bracha Ben-Avraham

Three other women from Haifa joined us on this shift.  They accompanied one of the shepherds in the pasture while we remained in the community that is divided into two living areas.  Our job was to remain with the families near their homes and to observe the grazing area incase anything happened.

It was a beautiful soul-inspiring day with blue skies, green fields, and colorful wild flowers.  Al-Farisiya extends over a large area  and the families are scattered throughout the area.  One family lives in the lower area and another four live above.  All the families are closely related to each other. Up above, they begin their morning by drinking coffee together outdoors.  Despite the fact that they are closely related, each family is economically independent.   Unlike other families in the valley, they raise sheep for milk and do not make cheese.  Except for one family, they have no tabun- an outdoor stove, which gives the women more free time for socializing.  The younger children who were in first to fourth grade had gone to school that day, while the older children remained at home.  We climbed the mountain to observe what was going on.  We occasionally saw the herd moving north and westward towards the Alon Route.  They passed without being disturbed.

Later Mickey performed social worker’s duties while I entertained the children with Yoga and climbing the hill to the west. From the top of the hill we had a view of the Jordan River to the east and the hill to  the outpost of Rotem – which is their main problem.    

From the angle where I was situated I understood that anyone in the outpost of Rotem who wished to harass the neighbors could see anything that was going on in Al-Farisiya.  They could see whether there were any Israeli escorts, when they came and left, and plan to disturb the families when there were no escorts present.

The families told us that they suffer from violent incidents every day.  The day before we arrived one of the settlers attacked a new resident who had come to live in Al-Farisiya, and stole his telephone,  

We brought toys for the small children and some clothing, which made them very happy.  They are extremely occupied with the presence of Israeli escorts and wonder who will come, when they will arrive, and what they will bring.  They are also learning Hebrew.  As with anything, there are advantages and disadvantages to this.

I distributed several packages of food.  I gave the last one to  Mahmoud’s wife Khadijah in Hamra, who received us with tearful excitement.  Her husband’s trial was taking place that day and they had not yet been told what had been decided.    His wife then wrote me that the judge had decided to shorten his sentence of  six months, but wanted to consult with other judges.  They would have to wait again to hear the results.