Jordan Valley and Mountainside - day by day and night after night, settlers come and harass the communities

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Nava Toledano, Dafna Banai, Yael Koren Translation: Bracha Ben-Avraham
Jewish Terror

Israel is systematically evicting the Palestinian communities one after the other that populate the West bank that it conquered in 1967 by means of threats, force, blocking access to  sources of water, and demolishing homes.

A year ago we stood on the ruins of Ras a-Tin. Two months ago residents of Ein Samiya were evicted and two weeks ago we were heartbroken at the sight of broken people who had to pack up their meager belongings and leave Kaboun.  

All the local factors are working together to terrorize the communities of shepherds in the West Bank until they are forced to give up.  The detrimental factor is the violent terrorism staged by residents of the illegal outposts. Each week another outpost springs up in the form of a lone house. They engage in stealing sheep, destroying crops and flocks with all-terrain vehicles. They stage violent raids on the residents’ tent sites at night and subject them to other forms of harassment.  If they call the police or the army the people who are arrested are the Palestinians.   This week Oren Ziv reported that Israel has taken total control over 150,000 dunams (35,000 acres) on the mountainside in Binyamin. There is no need to evict people from the area aside from the wish to take over more and more land until the Palestinians have nothing left! This is nothing short of ethnic cleansing.   

The sun had not yet risen over Kaboun ruins when the harassment  of the communities of Ein Rashash, Wad A Sik, and El  Bika began. Night after night and day after day the terrorists come and harass the communities. This week they entered the school in Wad A Sik, frightening the children and harassing their parents. Four Palestinians were arrested.    .

We activists have been taking turns for several weeks 24/7 in the shepherds’ communities to protect them and encourage them to remain on their land. This is encouraging, but not enough to provide the residents with protection over a long period of time.

On August 29th  Nava Toledano, Yael Koren (a volunteer who divides her time between living in Israel and Berlin), and I came to Ein Rashash.  We know one family from the time we came to accompany the shepherds. Three years ago they decided to give up the grazing land and the access to the well at Ein Rashash.  They are now forced to graze their flocks adjacent to their tenting grounds and purchase food for their sheep at great cost.   

When we arrived we saw a settler with a flock of sheep near the tents and the outermost water tanks and two activists arguing with him until he left.

The residents asked me to block the entrance to the village with my car to prevent settlers from speeding through the village or standing in the middle of the village and watching the residents. This was rather inconvenient because I had to move the car every time a resident wished to enter, but it was worth it because no settlers entered the village during our shift.

A team from B’Tzelem brought a video camerainfo-icon to the village so that the residents cold document the settlers’ attacks.   It is important that someone who knows how to operate the camera be present in the village at all times. The photographer taught Yael how to use the camera so that she could teach others.  Since the community is extremely conservative it was important that a woman teach the other women. The lesson was extremely rewarding since the young women enjoyed acquiring expertise with the camera   We laughed and photographed each other and  this quickly broke the ice and we soon found ourselves listening to the women’s life stories and telling them about ourselves. 

As evening approached Arik Asherman came to relieve us.  At 01:20 AM and again at 05:00 AM settlers entered the village and frightened the residents.  

Another incident occurred two days ago. Settlers attacked a young man in Ein el Hilweh the initiative of the person in charge of security from the settlement of Maskiyot and broke the young man’s arm.  Visits to the shepherds’ tents have become a daily occurrence.  Today settlers attacked the tents belonging to N.  and his brothers.  We don’t have enough people to be everywhere at once.   

There is a lot we can do!   We don’t have to escort people, but we can also be in the area and document the communities’  heroic struggle  while the entire Zionist establishment works against them. Will we stand by while criminal acts are occurring? 

Anyone who wishes to volunteer should contact Nava who is arranging the work.