1 August 2009
Yesterday while grazing his sheep, a Palestinian shepherd in Suseya near Yatta, was harrassed and threatened by two Israeli soldiers from a nearby military outpost. Jamal suffers daily from this type of harrassment on his own land. The soldiers forced him off his own land.
Shortly before Jamal was due to take his sheep grazing in the afternoon as he always does, two Israeli soldiers appeared from their post on the hill overlooking the land that is used by a number of families. They were clearly agitated and started shouting and throwing stones about even before the grazing started. As Jamal approached the area that the Israelis no longer let him use, the soldiers marched down the hill with their guns in their hands. There was a very heated debate in which the Palestinian was abused and threatened with being shot.The ISM observers were told that they didn’t know who they were protecting. Jamal continued to allow his sheep to graze for a while which produced a second out burst in which he was told he was now on Israeli land. One of the soldiers claimed to be Tunisian in background. The other at one point found the whole incident amusing and was laughing at the plight of Jamal, though he did get very aggressive when the shepherd’s dog barked at him and threatened to shoot the dog. Eventually Jamal was forced to move his sheep.
Suseya is a community of a small number of families totaling about 400 people near Hebron displaced from their original village of cave dwellings in 1986 by the Israelis and the land they now occupy is close to a settlement declared illegal under international law. They have been moved several times and prevented from building permanent dwellings so they now live in tents. There have been a number of attacks and harassment from settlers from the nearby settlement and the Israeli army on them aimed at driving them from their land and keeping them away from the local settlement. They cannot use the main road to Yatta even in medical emergency and this makes the journey nearly half an hour despite being only a few kilometeres away by the direct route. They are not allowed to use water from their own wells so water has to be brought in by lorry. In contrast, the local settlement has full running water, so much that it can be piped underground to their vines.
Footnote: the harrassment continued this morning, with a solitary soldier harassing young children tending the sheep again forcing them off their own land