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Posts Tagged ‘Mitzpeh Ya’ir’

After last week’s violence in Safa, it seems that the IDF has come to an agreement with the residents and will permit the farmers of the town to work, but no one else will be allowed in the agricultural area.  Therefore, Ta’ayush agreed to not go to Safa, hoping that the farming would resume without problems and that our activities there had indeed been successful.

Instead we went to accompany Palestinian shepherds from the small village of Tu’ba  who wanted to graze their goats near the chicken houses of the settlement Ma’on.  There was little vegetation to graze in the area, and even less in places further from the settlement.  Our group was a few hundred meters from the settlement itself, and the chicken houses were only inhabited by chickens, so we were not very close to any settlers.  Nonetheless, settlement security came to the area and called in the IDF, Border Police and civilian Police.  They declared the area a Closed Military Zone and said we had to leave in 5 minutes.  No explanation was given even though we repeatedly asked for one.  Luckily, by that time the goats had nearly finished their grazing so we were not upset about leaving.

We received a phone call that some Palestinians in the village of Sha’ab al-Buttun had been attacked by settlers from Mitzpe Ya’ir, so we gathered in our cars and went there.  By the time we arrived the settlers had already left, but the Palestinians showed us some video they had taken on a phone.  Apparently, 3 settlers entered the village and went inside the homes of a few residents.  They also hit some of the Palestinians, one of whom showed us the welts on his arms.  Perhaps most disturbingly, the settlers also broke the legs of 3 of the Palestinian’s sheep.  We will try to file a complaint and hopefully be able to press charges against the settlers.  There is a chance of some success because their faces are on video.

Finally we went to visit the small Palestinian village of Susya, where the Border Police and IDF had followed us.  After drinking tea and some discussion, it was decided to go up to Givat HaDegel, the illegal outpost built by settlers from the settlement of Susya on private Palestinian land.  The soldiers and Border Police were already at the outpost when we arrived, ready with an order for a Closed Military Zone.  At least 15 soldiers and Border Police prepared to eject our group of 15 from the area.  After a brief argument, we went back to the village of Palestinian Susya and said our goodbyes

IDF soldiers on Givat HaDegel

IDF soldiers on Givat HaDegel

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Most of the group continued back to Jerusalem after this, but I went to Beit Ummar with two others from Ta’ayush to say hello to Issa (a Palestinian Ta’ayush activist) and to see if the Palestinians in Safa were able to do their work.  We found that the farmers were able to work today without any problems, which was very positive news.  However, we also heard that the IDF had destroyed part of the walls on either side of a path leading to the farm area and also destroyed a few fruit trees.

Apparently, an army vehicle became stuck in a ditch in the farmland area.  To get it out, the soldiers decided to bring  a bulldozer, which then destroyed part of the walls on either side of the path, leaving rocks and rubble in the road.  Another vehicle had driven in between the fruit trees, at least one of which was totally destroyed, and two or three others were seriously damaged and did not look to me that they would survive.  I don’t think the soldiers intentionally did this damage, but the way they did it indicates that it does not matter to them.  They did not make efforts not to damage property, and there was no discussion with any of the Palestinians about it.  This destruction didn’t take place during a military operation or any kind of emergency, it just was easier for the soldiers to do their work this way.

(Photo by Mairav Zonszein)

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dscn1011

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.

 

a settler chasing sheep

a settler chasing 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. 

 

3 soldiers standing in front of 2 settlers (Taayush member bottom left)

3 soldiers standing in front of 2 settlers (Taayush member bottom left)

 

 

More soldiers then arrived, along with other settlers and their children, numbering around 20.  

 

More settlers and their children come

More settlers and their children come

 

 

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 commander

The commander

 

 

 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…

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