Israeli occupation forces and settlers have been intensifying their attacks against Palestinian shepherds in the northern Jordan Valley region of the West Bank.
According to human rights organisation B’Tselem, recent months have seen “an upsurge in the frequency and severity of attacks by settlers” against shepherds from the Palestinian community of al-Farisiyah in the northern Tubas District.
“The settlers threaten shepherds, chase them, physically assault them, drive headlong into the flocks to scatter the sheep, and even run over or steal sheep,” B’Tselem reported, attacks the NGO described as “now virtually a daily occurrence”.
Disturbingly – but perhaps unsurprisingly given precedent – the human rights group stated that Israeli soldiers are not only “usually present during these attacks” but “sometimes even take part”, by “demanding that the shepherds get off the pastureland”.
“Soldiers detain shepherds and, in some cases, even arrest them on a variety of pretexts,” B’Tselem added.
According to the organisation, these recent events “are no isolated incidents, but rather part of the policy Israel has been implementing in the Jordan Valley”, whose “goal is to take over as much land as possible, while getting Palestinians to leave, which it achieves via various measures”.
Palestinians’ daily lives are made unbearable through “coordinated attacks by soldiers and settlers”, along with a “sweeping ban on the development of the Palestinian communities, construction, and the establishment of vital infrastructures, including water, electricity, and roads”.
If residents – left with no other choice – build without permits, the Israeli occupation authority “issues demolition orders, demolishes solar panels installed by the residents, confiscates water tanks, and cuts water pipes”.
Mufideh Daraghmeh, 69, a widow and mother of eight, is a resident of Al-Farisiyah. She told B’Tselem:
Ever since they [the settlers] settled in the area, we’re all scared at night. They don’t know the meaning of mercy or compassion. What can we do?
“This [is] our land, passed down through the generations, from grandfather to father to son, and they want to take it all. We’re surrounded by the settlements. We all live in constant fear. There’s no peace of mind. What will we do and where will we go?”