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Operation Dove: Armed Israeli settlers steal a sheep from a Palestinian shepherd

Operation Dove

At-Tuwani – South Hebron Hills: Yesterday, on Wednesday, 21st of July 2010, three settlers, one of them armed, stole a sheep from a young Palestinian shepherd, a resident of the village of Tuba, while he was watering the flocks at a well situated in Umm Zeitouna valley, which is located between the Israeli settlements of Ma’on and Karmel.

According to the shepherd, at around 8 am two Israeli settler vehicles pulled over on the roadside. A settler exited from one of the two cars, walked to the shepherd’s flock, and after grabbing a sheep by the ear, dragged the animal a few yards before loading it on his shoulders. He then walked away towards the road, where two other settlers, one of them armed, were waiting for him. The animal was loaded into one of the vehicles with the help of two other settlers, while the shepherd remained at a distance filming the theft with a camera from the Israeli association B’Tselem, given to Palestinians in the area to document attacks by settlers.

The young Palestinian pointed out that during the theft, on the road not far from the settlers cars, there was an IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) military jeep. Although the soldiers were present during the incident, after a nod by the settlers they left the scene without intervening.

The shepherd then reported the theft of the sheep to Israeli police, who arrived on the scene with Ma’on settlement’s Security Guard and two other settlers identified as Havat Ma’on residents and responsible of previous attacks against Palestinians. The police refused to talk to the shepherd who wanted to make a complaint, saying they did not know Arabic or English and insisting on speaking with the boy’s father, although he was not present at the time of the robbery. A few minutes later the police went to the village of Tuba to pick the parent and bring him to the police station in Kiryat Arba. Then the young shepherd, accompanied by international volunteers, followed his father to the Israeli police station to make a complaint and bring the video of the incident.

See photos from this event here.

Episodes like this are frequent in the South Hebron Hills, where the national-religious settlers from the settlements and the outposts attack Palestinian shepherds and farmers to intimidate and force them to leave their lands. These kinds of illegal actions are usually left unpunished and many of them occur with army and police complicity. The Palestinian community of this area have chosen nonviolence to resist to the continuous abuses of the Israeli settlers and military.

Operation Dove and Christian Peacemaker Teams have maintained an international presence in At-Tuwani and the South Hebron Hills since 2004.