Shepherds in Ein Hilva: They don't let us graze, they don't let usbreathe

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Shepherds in Ein Hilva: They don't let them graze, they don't let them breathe

“Allah and our friends will take us to the pasture”


Following Michal’s shocking report from the South Hebron Hills, which was uploaded this morning, I became deeply concerned and called Mohammad from the herding community in Ein el-Hilwe in the north of the Jordan Valley. He and his brother (“Big” and “Little” Mohammad) have lived there for years. They have flocks of sheep and like everyone else, earn their living from the sale of cheese and meat. We met Mohammad ten years ago, when two friends and I began taking care of his daughter Bissan, who has disabilities, and we have been in touch ever since


Settlers from Maskiyot, their neighbors to the east on the hill on the other side of the Allon road (578) began harassing them a few years ago and since then their consistent, systematic abuse has intensified. They prevent them from going out to pasture, scatter their flocks, threaten the shepherds (most of whom are small children aged 9 or 10), and even hurt them – and that’s not all. Their goal, which has become a national mission with army backing, is to get rid of them, throw them out.


Mohammad and his brother rented the land where they set up their camp from its Palestinian owners or from the Patriarchal church, and since this was a legitimate deal, they settled the land with some confidence. Today, Mohammad says, “they don’t let us out to the pasture. They don’t let us breathe.”


He and his brother packed up their families and moved to their homes in Tubas, to escape the extreme heat. They do this every summer during the scorching hot months, but this year they took their flocks too. They rented a patch of land with grazing and for NIS 20,000 (for three months), they are able to graze the sheep and make a living. In the past, his brother worked in Israel as a heavy machine operator and Mohammad himself worked in the Jordan Valley settlements packing dates.


In October, they plan to return to their camp in Ein el-Hilwe. What about the sheep? He can’t think that far ahead, but of course “with the help of Allah and people who believe in peace and who come with us to the pasture, it’ll be fine.”