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Police Question Palestinian Claim Settlers Burned His Herd of Sheep

Palestinian shepherd says he saw settlers light a fire in the field where his herd was grazing, burning to death 12 pregnant ewes, and then drive away.

A Palestinian shepherd told police on Monday that West Bank settlers burned to death a herd of goats and sheep. He said the settlers also burned pasture land.

Samir Bani Fadel told Haaretz he was with his herd, which was grazing around the Majdal village near Ma'aleh Efraim and the Gitit settlements in Samaria on Saturday morning when four settlers came up to him and chased him away.

Samir Bani Fadel next to some of his herd.

He then saw them light a fire in the field where his herd was grazing, burning to death 12 pregnant ewes and badly scorching a few others. After they set the field on fire the arsonists, who were wearing skullcaps, entered a car and drove away, he said.

Police in the area said they had received a complaint and opened an investigation. They said some of the details were questionable, like the settlers' entering a car on the Sabbath, when most Orthodox Jews do not drive.

Most violent incidents perpetrated by settlers against Palestinians take place on weekdays, police sources said.

The Yesh Din human rights group said that in cases of settlers' violence against Palestinians, 90-92 percent are closed, mostly because the perpetrators are not found. These figures are based on 700 cases opened after claims of violence. In cases of vandalizing or destroying property, no charges are pressed in 100 percent of the incidents.