Jordan Valley: Accompanying Palestinian shepherds to pasture

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Amir P., Martin G.., Gali Hendin (reporting), translation Danah E.


We went out to accompany M. and his uncle R. to the pasture in the hills above the Hamra settlement. We went south past Mitzpe Leibo, another illegal spot that the settlers had taken over in order to expel shepherds. At one point a policeman sent by Moshe from the outpost arrived and talked to Martin, requesting we stay at Mitzpe Leibo. After about an hour, a military SUV arrived at Mitzpe Leibo with 4 female soldiers from the 41st Battalion of the Jordan Lions and showed us (as expected) an order of a closed military area, which means that Palestinian shepherds are not allowed to stay there. And neither are we. Who is allowed? You guessed it ... only Moshe from the outpost is allowed to stay in the closed military area and graze his flock. Why? Because this is the order given to them, to the female soldiers.  

This process usually goes as follows: Moshe picks up the phone to the battalion commander or his lieutenant and/or the police, and they immediately issue a “closed military area” order with a map, and send soldiers to the area to enforce the order. Whenever a Palestinian shepherd takes his nose out of his home he is threatened with such an order and has no right to answer or ask or appeal it. Therefore our presence is significant in such a situation.

After discussions with the female soldiers, we understood from the map attached to the order that M. could return with the herd to his house only for the upper path, which bypasses the boundaries of the order.

On the way back M. reported a drone hovering over the herd (another means of abuse of the outpost to frighten the herd and scatter the flocks). We did not notice this because we were in the back with the army, but on our way back to M.'s house we noticed a sheep lying on the ground, probably startled by the drone. We picked her up and she limped back to the pen.

We finished the morning grazing at 11:30 and continued in our car for a round of distributing packages of clothes and games to two more families in Ein al-Sakot and Farsia.

After a rest in the Umm Zuka Reserve, we returned to look after M.'s afternoon grazing, and this time we stayed with the vehicle on the road connecting the outpost, with the intention of entering it if M. reports another drone incident, via his telephone.

The grazing passed quietly.

We left for home around 6 p.m.