Evacuated Baladim Settlers Blame State for Sheep Deaths

Outpost was evacuated earlier this week, two sheep died during transportation due to overcrowding

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Settlers from a West Bank outpost evacuated by police and Civil Administration personnel earlier this week complained Wednesday that some of their livestock were killed during the operation. The settlers, from the Baladim outpost near Kochav Hashahar, said two of their sheep were killed when the flock was taken away and their lambs were abandoned.

Baladim is a nomadic outpost consisting of several tents and a flock of sheep. The Shin Bet security service and Israel Police consider it a key instigator of violence in the West Bank. Yinon Reuveni, one of the men charged over the arson attack on the Church of Loaves and Fishes in the Galilee last June, used to live at the outpost. Since the firebombing of the Dawabsheh family home in Duma last July, the Civil Administration has dismantled the outpost several times.

Civil Administration inspectors were accompanied by members of a private animal-transportation firm, who were there to oversee the removal of the animals to a holding facility at Gesher Adam. Footage shows the sheep being dragged by the company’s workers and tossed into a truck, without any safety measures being used. Two of the sheep died during the journey due to overcrowding. Also, 67 mature sheep were confiscated, leaving dozens of lambs behind and unable to suckle.

The legal basis for the operation was the violation of a 1999 order that declared the area a military zone; this order was shown to those present. Officers arrested outpost leader Neria Ben-Pazi and others with him, but they were released soon afterward. The police sought to keep Ben-Pazi in custody, but Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court Judge David Shaul Gabai Richter ordered his release and criticized the police’s handling of the case. “The order is not legible and the markings on both the map and satellite photo are not clear at all,” Richter said. “I have no information as to what the Baladim hilltop is and what its boundaries are, and why the order is said to relate to that hilltop.”

The Honenu legal aid organization representing the outpost residents says it plans to take legal action against all those responsible.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories responded, “An operation was carried out to remove illegal structures that were built without a permit in the Binyamin region. In the course of the enforcement, local residents clashed violently with the security forces who were there. The complaints regarding the manner in which the animals were transported will be investigated.”