At Rashash, above the Jordan Valley

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Rita Mendes-Flohr – reporting, Arik Asherman, driving, and David Shulman

A beautiful sunny day accompanying Bedouin shepherds above  the Jordan Valley in occupied Palestine, among fields of crocuses. And it remained a beautiful day, uninterrupted by the hilltop youth from the Angels of Peace (sic) outpost, that have been attacking the herders even more intensely in the past week.

In the distance, we saw an army jeep with some soldiers walking around, but they remained in the distance, they did not seem to be interested in us. We joked that perhaps they finally have understood their duty to protect the Bedouin by keeping the aggressive youth away.


Wishful thinking of course. On our way back, the three of us activists were approached by one of the soldiers who said the army was holding exercises in this area, and that we should let the herders know - but by that time the Bedouin had moved their goats towards the Rashash spring across the ridge, and were out of danger.

In the past, the army let the Bedouin graze in these hills, that are officially a live fire zone, but hardly ever used as such. They would tell the Bedouin to stay away on the few days when the army was actually exercising. Since the Angels of Peace outpost was established - within the live fire zone - a couple of years ago, the army has been using the live fire zone as an excuse to keep out the Bedouin, while the settler youth are free to graze their herds and often, to attack the herders, unhindered.

Perhaps the settler youth stayed away today because they had been warned by the army  of the exercise in advance? But the Bedouin had not been told. It was only when we arrived at the encampment, that we learned the army had come at 10 am to warn the Bedouin women - when the army had been out there much earlier, and certainly knew that the exercise was planned.

We could have all been caught in the crossfire....