acute shortage of water in the Jordan Valley only for the palestinian
We were greeted by a spectacular sunrise in the Jordan Valley. We arrived at about 07:05 to escort a shepherd named A. in the area of Ein Sakut. His herd of about 150 sheep and goats were already outside their corral and we went out with them immediately. It was still not hot and there was a breeze blowing. A. goes out each morning towards Wadi Hamam and we were with him. The herd crossed a fallow field within an hour and then descended onto an old asphalt road towards puddles that were created by spring water in the riverbed. The herd then continued on to a field with some remnants of grain, thorns, and cockle burrs. The sheep seemed to prefer the thorns and grains.
We remained there for about an hour. A. pointed to the road where they had been blocked yesterday by youths from a new illegal settlement. He explained that he walks on that route for a couple of hours there and back because there is more grass there. Unfortunately there is no water to give the sheep to drink. The route involves crossing Route 90 and approaching a new building that was put up a few days ago beneath the settlement of Shadmot Mekholah. A. reported that two youths had approached him the previous day and demanded that he not cross the area. They were backed up by three adults who were sitting in a car on the road. A. left immediately and asked us to escort him each day in the afternoon.
There were no further harassments in the area where we were which was far from any settlement. We remained there until about 10:45. By that time the sun was extremely hot and the sheep began to make their way back. On the way back the sheep drank thirstily from the spring water and A. left them in a makeshift corral made of fencing and an awning next to a tree. The shepherd explained that from his experience with Menachem the settler sees that the escorts are women and does not make contact, but merely shows his presence in the area.
After two and a half hours of hiking in the heat A. stopped to rest until he continued on to the afternoon pasture. We returned to the tent site at 11:45 and hurried to pick up the second team on the way home. Unfortunately we read that the next day A. went out without an escort (Thursday, September 8th) and was attacked by settlers from the new illegal outpost. They grabbed his mobile phone and seriously injured one of his goats.