CPT: Rise in violence against Palestinian shepherds shows settler-military collaboration

20 February 2010

From Christian Peacemaker Teams and Operation Dove

AT-TUWANI – The past two weeks have seen a marked rise in settler activity outside the illegal settlements* of Ma’on and the Havat Ma’on (Hill 833) outpost. This has varied from settlers crossing Palestinian grazing land, to grazing their sheep while shooting rocks from slingshots at nearby Palestinian shepherds, to abducting young Palestinian shepherds with the aid of the Israeli military and police.

On Friday afternoon, 19 February, 2010, Israeli settlers, soldiers and
police detained a 12-year-old boy from the Palestinian village of Saadet
Tha’lah, located near the Israeli settlement of Carmel in the South Hebron Hills. The boy had been grazing his family’s flock alone in their regular grazing area, just above Umm Zeitouna Valley, on the south side of the large Israeli dairy facility belonging to the Ma’on Settlement.

When CPTers** arrived, Israeli occupation authorities were also holding
two of the boy’s goats, which especially worried him because one goat was pregnant and could miscarry. Another shepherd from the nearby village of Tuba told the CPTers that he had been in the area and heard the boy’s shouts of panic as the Israelis grabbed him.

The boy reporting seeing two Israeli settlers outside the dairy barns, who summoned and directed the soldiers to go after him. The soldiers walked downhill from the dairy barns, grabbed his two goats, and told him, “If you want your goats back, you better come here.” The boy complied. The other shepherd then reported seeing both a settler and a soldier together grab the boy and physically restrain him. The boy also said he had been struck violently.

Israeli police held the boy and his two goats for about two hours, telling CPT that he had criminally trespassed on Ma’on Settlement land. The boy reported having no idea the land was not open to everyone. The police refused to produce a map defining which land was private, and eventually released him and his goats.

On the same afternoon, about 2 km west, according to area residents, a larger group of settlers crossed the Israeli highway 317 and attacked two shepherds, ages 13 and 21, from Jawayya Village, located about 1km north of At-Tuwani. The settlers killed one ewe and took it away. Although their means were unclear, blood was found at the site. Israeli police arrived and took the boys to their headquarters inside the Qiryat Arba Settlement, near Hebron, in order to file a complaint against the settlers. The boys’ father arrived as the police were leaving, asked if he could speak with his sons, and was told “no.”

CPT and Operation Dove are further investigating the details of both
incidents.

*According to the Geneva Conventions, the International Court of Justice in the Hague, and numerous United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal. Most settlement outposts are also considered illegal under Israeli law.