This last Saturday I went along with members of Taayush to accompany some Palestinian shepherds who had recently been attacked by settlers. The Palestinians are from a village called Sha’ab-el-But’un, which is about 200 meters away from the illegal outpost of Mitzpeh Ya’ir.
As mentioned, the settlement is in close proximity to the Palestinians. When the Palestinian shepherds take their sheep out to graze, it would make sense that they should be able to do so near their homes. However, the settlers prevent this from happening by intimidating the shepherds and frightening their sheep.
I was standing along with a few Israelis near a flock of sheep, when three settlers approached. They walked right up to the flocks of sheep and start yelling and frightening the animals,. chasing them almost all the way back to Sha’ab el But’un . One of the Palestinians near me says that this happens every day.
Seeing a few 30 year-old adults running around, making strange noises to scare sheep was bizarre, and would be comical, except that these sheep are the Palestinian’s livelihood. The shepherds tried to keep their flocks together, but gave up in the end, looking on helplessly.
Shortly after this, a number of IDF soldiers arrived, some of whom immediately shook hands with the settlers who had just spent the last 5-10 minutes yelling and running after frightened sheep. It seems very unlikely to me that the soldiers did not see some of that behavior.
More soldiers then arrived, along with other settlers and their children, numbering around 20.
The settlers quickly engaged in argument with the Palestinians and members of Taayush as their children join in, hurling insults. One of the adults shouted, “We are on the right side of history.”
The soldiers wanted the Palestinians to go back to their village, the settlers back to the settlement, and us to leave.
The army commander accused us of provoking the settlers. Apparently, Palestinian shepherds trying to graze their flocks near their own village is a provocation.
More to come soon…