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Elderly woman harrassed by settlers on quad bike night and day

1st and 2nd September 2007

At 9.30pm on 1st September an elderly Palestinian woman shouted in distress to the other tents of the village scattered across a hillside South of Hebron where the original inhabitants of Susya now live. She had been walking with a torch in the dark when some settlers drove up on a quad bike and grabbed her torch from her. She lives alone with her adult son in a tent alongside her flock of sheep and goats which they graze in the fields surrounding them.

On hearing the commotion her neighbours and 2 Human Rights Workers (HRWs) ran over the hillside in the dark to help. By the time they got there the quad bike has gone. The elderly woman was frightened and extremely angry. The neighbours and HRWs sat on a smooth rock by a track near her tent and listened to her telling of her outrage and fright. The HRWs stayed the night in her tent in case the settlers came back. In the night on that hillside with no electricity and so near to the illegal Israeli settlement, also known as Susya, it is frightening to know that at any time the sound of the quad bike engine will mean an attack by its helmeted riders. The settlers came again on the quad bike at 11.30pm and this time the HRWs immediately ran out to the track but they sped away before they could be photographed. The 2 riders were clearly visible wearing white full face motor bike helmets. The rest of the night all 4 sleepers at the tent were restless and hyper-vigilant for the sound of the engine of these hostile intruders. They did not come again this night but were back the following afternoon at 2.00pm just when there was a break from work in the middle of the day. The old lady was on her own again by this time. At this point the HRWs stayed for the rest of the day and the following night and there were no further incidents.

These attacks are cowardly and designed to drive the elderly woman from her insubstantial and precarious living on the hill with her flock. This has been the way of life to her and her ancestors for hundreds of years. The other tents scattered across the hill have men and boys in the family and this woman is old and alone. All the tent dwellers have had to move on at least 4 times since 1984 because of the destruction of their camps by nearby settlers who want the land ‘cleansed’. The Israeli police and army do nothing to protect them. The shepherds are treated as squatters by the Israeli Courts even though they can prove that this has been their grazing land for generations.