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CPT: Livelihood of Hebron shepherd threatened

20 October 2010 | Christian Peacemakers Team

Noah El-Rajabi is a shepherd, with two hundred sheep and goats. He lives in Bani Na’im, 17 kilometres from Hebron. He is married, and has seven children.

Noah El-Rajabi's house

Noah El-Rajabi's house

Ten weeks ago the Israeli military demolished his house. His wife and younger children now live in two rented rooms in Hebron. Noah and his oldest son lived in a tent supplied by the Red Cross, so that Noah could continue to work with his flock.

On Monday 11th October, at 8.00 a.m. the Israeli military arrived without warning and destroyed his water cistern, his tent, and a small wooden structure Noah used for cooking and storage.

His oldest son, aged 14, who was with Noah, protested at the soldiers’ action, and was arrested. His son is accused of assaulting two soldiers. Noah reports that soldiers kicked and beat some of the animals and that one pregnant ewe aborted.

ISM activits, along with members from the Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) met Noah in Hebron on Tuesday morning 12th October. He did not know where his son was being held, and where he could get water for his animals.

CPTers accompanied Noah to three Israeli police stations. The only information Israeli police gave was that his son was being held in Ofer military prison. They refused to accept a complaint against the Israeli soldiers for their behavior.

ISM and CPTers also visited Noah’s rented accommodation in Hebron. They met his wife and some of his younger children. ‘Please bring my son home’, his wife pleaded.

The animals are being looked after by Noah’s brother, and have been moved to another hillside, where there is water. Agencies in Hebron are trying to reconnect Noah’s water supply, but the cistern will have to be restored, and will run the risk of further demolition orders in the future.

Noah El-Rajabi's destroyed cistern

Noah El-Rajabi's destroyed cistern

It took Noah a week to track down his son, and he still has not been able to see him.

This incident illustrates the Israeli government’s continued intimidation and harassment techniques aimed at forcing Palestinians off of their ancestral lands in order to expand settlements, and further control the main West Bank mountain aquifer.

A recent study by the World Bank found that Israel is taking four times as much water as the Palestinians. Israelis use 240 cubic meters of water a person each year, against 75 cubic meters for West Bank Palestinians and 125 for Gazans. Palestinians have not been able to develop any new production wells in the West Bank since the 1967 war. Noah’s case is a clear example of the inequities surrounding water distribution, and a reflection of the wider apartheid system.