Home / Reports / Illegal Settlers Attack Shepherding family in Masafer Yatta

Illegal Settlers Attack Shepherding family in Masafer Yatta

21 February 2024 | International Solidarity Movement | Masafer Yatta

One of the injured sheep. @ISM

On Tuesday, February 20th, armed illegal Israeli settlers attacked a shepherding family and their sheep near the villages of Al Jawaya and Tuwani, in Masafer Yatta. The settlers reportedly let their dog loose on the sheep, injuring three, discharged a weapon, and hit a child.

Shepherd Hamze Shawaheen reports that 2 armed assailants dressed in army fatigues (believed to be from Susiya or another nearby settlement), came upon him and his family mid-morning. They beat and pushed to the ground one of his sons and many of his sheep, and then sent a dog among them to harm and break up his flock. Hamze attempted to film, but they pointed a gun at him and threatened to shoot him. He states they fired a weapon towards the herd, but no gunshot injuries were noted. The settlers threatened to come for him and his flock, stating: “We have a picture of you and we will come for you all the time, because you called [for help].”

Hamze chose to graze his sheep in different fields later in the day, and with solidarity activists present. That afternoon, three settler vehicles pulled onto a nearby rise and waited. Hamze believes that were activists not present, they would have attacked him again.

Settler vehicles pulled onto a nearby rise while shepherd was grazing. @ISM

He states these attackers are known to him, though he does not know their names. He offered a photo taken when one came in a tractor and attempted to run over his sheep. He states that they have harassed him and his sheep on a near-daily basis, and that they assaulted him twice physically. No charges have been brought against his assailants, though he himself was arrested and held for 6 hours after one altercation. Hamze denies any wrongdoing or physical aggression towards the settlers. Until now, none of his family have been seriously injured, but the settlers have killed 2 of his sheep, one pregnant with 2 unborn baby sheep.

A photo taken from Hamze when a settler came in a tractor and attempted to run over his sheep.

Violence like this has grown common in the South Hebron Hills since October 7th, whether at the hands of settlers or military reservists. It is difficult at times to differentiate them as settlers increasingly wear military uniforms and soldiers and police appear to defer to them during confrontations. They have attacked Palestinians’ livelihoods by attacking their flocks and destroying cultivated lands. And they have assaulted and threatened children and adults, displacing and terrorizing entire villages.

Solidarity activists, both Israeli and internationals, have been present in the area for many years, but settler and military violence against Palestinian civilians persists across the West Bank. Hamze believes that the only reason he can still graze his sheep at all is because of the presence of solidarity activists: “We must have activists with us every day. This means that when we want to go out, we must have activists with us, because the settler army is afraid of being photographed by cameras like you.”

One of the injured sheep. @ISM