Israeli Settlers Harm Livestock, Intimidate Shepherds in Jordan Valley, Palestinians Say

In latest incident, masked settlers threw stones at a flock, killing a sheep. Attack is said to be a clear escalation of violence against Palestinian shepherds in area, Palestinians say.

File photo: Sheep in the northern Jordan Valley.
Tomer Appelbaum

Two Israelis killed a sheep and wounded a goat as they threw stones at a flock belonging to a Palestinian family in the northern Jordan Valley on Friday, according to family members, in what locals are describing as a clear escalation between them and an illegal outpost in the area.

A third sheep was wounded and fled and has not yet returned.

Two members of the Iyoub family were with the grazing flock at 3 P.M. some two kilometers from their residence at the Tel al-Hima camp, family members told the Ta'ayush organization on Saturday morning. They claimed that two Israelis arrived on the scene, one of whom was riding a horse, wearing black and had his face covered.

The masked Israeli allegedly threw rocks at the flock from horseback. According to the family, the Palestinians were verbally abused by the Israelis who used words "that we can't repeat." The stone-thrower referred to himself as Soheil, according to the Palestinians.

Although his face was covered, the Palestinian family says they recognized the stone thrower and know his name. 

In September, a group of Israelis erected an unauthorized outpost on a hill above Tel al-Hima, where Palestinian shepherds have been grazing their flocks for years. Since September, the Israelis in the outpost have been preventing the shepherds from grazing in the area.

The incident on Friday represents an escalation in the situation for the locals. Police, the Israeli army and the Civil Administration in charge of the West Bank are aware of the existence of the unauthorized outpost and attacks against neighboring shepherd families. 

On Saturday, when Ta'ayush visited the area, three Israelis entered the camp, one of them on a horse. The Palestinian family said the recognized two of them, one of whom was the horse rider from Friday's encounter.

Last week, three Israeli settlers in a different area in the northern Jordan Valley demanded that three other Palestinian shepherds stop grazing in the area, despite the fact that they do so regularly.

In this case, the settlers were joined by two Israeli soldiers who handcuffed and detained them in the field for some two hours.

Cows are being raised at the outpost and, according to reports from local Palestinians, as well as Ta'ayush and Machsom Watch, pre-army teenagers who dropped out of yeshivas wander about intimidating the Palestinian shepherds and demanding that they not graze their flocks there.

In the Shiloh Valley, northeast of Ramallah, outpost residents have taken similar actions of violence over the years in order to drive farmers away from their lands. In this manner, Israelis were able to start planting vineyards and orchards in the area.