Israeli Reports Harassment of Palestinian Shepherds, Gets Two Police Visits in 12 Hours

Before each of the visits, Guy Hirschfeld, a member of anti-occupation group Ta’ayush, called the police to report that armed settlers had attacked the family's animals.

Jerusalem police visited the home of a member of the rights group Ta’ayush twice in 12 hours – once with a dog – soon after he called the police to report Israelis’ harassment of Palestinian shepherds in the West Bank.

On both visits Saturday and Sunday, Ta’ayush member Guy Hirschfeld, 48, came out of his home to talk to the police; they did not enter. The first visit happened at 11:30 P.M. Saturday; the second 12 hours later.

At around 8 P.M. Saturday, Hirschfeld had called the Israel Police in the West Bank to report that armed settlers from an illegal outpost linked to the Givat Salit outpost had broken into the Ayoub family’s tent encampment in the northern Jordan Valley.

A day earlier, settlers, including one on horseback, had attacked the family’s animals, and according to the family, the man on the horse threw stones at the herd, killing a sheep and hurting a goat and another sheep.

The second visit came after Hirschfeld had again called the police to report that Israelis on horseback had entered the encampment a second time in a threatening manner. After the second complaint, Hirschfeld said he received three phone calls from the police at various locations in the West Bank asking why he had not filed a formal complaint.

According to Hirschfeld, he told the police that he felt obligated as a citizen to report on the incidents. He said he felt that the matter should be dealt with in an orderly way and that the police’s regional headquarters should be involved.

Hirschfeld added that the two police officers who came to his house with a dog Sunday said they were there at the instructions of the regional West Bank police headquarters at Hirschfeld’s request.

In recent months, residents of two illegal outposts who are known to the authorities have stepped up their harassment of shepherds and farmers in the northern Jordan Valley, often menacing them with guns and preventing them from grazing their livestock.

The outpost affiliated with Givat Salit was established in September, and another outpost, inhabited by cattle ranchers, was set up next to the Netzach Yehuda military camp in the area.

In response, Ta’ayush and two other groups, Machsom Watch and Combatants for Peace, have increased their presence in the area in support of the farmers and shepherds.