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18 year old shepherd shot by Israeli soldiers in Jordan Valley

by Sally Rosarito

29 April 2012 | International Solidarity Movement, West Bank

Last Thursday 18 year old shepherd Yasir Sulaiman Sal man Najadah was shot in the chest by Israeli soldiers taking part in military training exercises near the Tyraseer training zone.

If one walks towards the Bedouin community of Wadi al-Maleh in the Jordan Valley, they will see one of the 67 blocks of concrete placed by Israeli military in the area, the words “Danger – Firing Zone – Entrance Forbidden” audaciously inscribed.

The village is only a few hundred meters away from an Israeli military base, and the villagers of Wadi al-Maleh are frequently endangered as Israeli soldiers carry out military training. In the past year, the village has lost two young men, both killed whilst shepherding as they inadvertently triggered unexploded ordnance.

“I was standing in the field with 19 camels,” said Yasir.  According to Yasir, army jeeps typically comb the area to alert herders before shooting exercises begin however on April 19th, no warnings were issued before the firing of live ammunition began. Yasir was shot  at a distance of approximately 1 to 1.5 kilometers, and he believes that the soldiers saw him before shooting.

He did not see the soldiers and only became aware of their presence after the shooting began; he believes they were behind a nearby hill. After the bullet entered his chest, Yasir walked to his home where he was then driven to the training base by his father for medical attention.

Israeli soldiers refused to treat him and denied fault in the shooting. It was nearly two hours before Yasir received medical treatment in Rafadia Hospital in Nablus. Yasir spent 1 day in Rafadia Hospital and was then transferred to a hospital in Ramallah.

According to his doctor, Yasir is in stable condition but remains in the Palestinian Authority hospital ICU after the shooting.

Yasir is the eldest of eight children and left school after the 10th grade to tend to the family’s heard of camels and sheep which is the main source of income for his family. He says his father is too old to take care of the animals and is concerned that no one is tending to them while he is in the hospital. Despite being shot, Yasir says he must return to the area surrounding the Tyraseer training zone for grazing because it is the only spring-time grazing near his village.

Aref Dyragma chief of council in Wadi al-Maleh, was one of the first persons to be informed about the attack. As Dyragma shows us around al-Maleh, he described how the Bedouins are exposed to systematic violence.

“Life is like hell here”, he said. “We have no running water, no electricity and we are prohibited from building anything. Israel has taken control of all the natural water resources, which forces us to walk 15 kilometers to the city of Tamoun, where we can buy expensive water.”

The violence used against Palestinians in the JordanValleyis part of process of ethnic cleansing. 130 families from the area have received demolition and evacuation orders – but Dyragma ensures that they will stay.

“We have no other choice – this our land and we cannot leave.”

Sally Rosarito is a volunteer with International Solidarity Movement (name has been changed).