In the run-up to the Islamic festival of Eidul Adha, when Muslims traditionally sacrificial animals to commemorate Prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his then only son Ismail, Israel is blocking Palestinians from selling lambs in the occupied Jordan Valley.
Shepherd Mahmoud Bsharat told Al-Mujtama Magazine that this is the culmination of a year-long campaign against Palestinian farmers in the valley. The Israeli occupation forces, he explained, have prevented farmers from accessing their pastures and grazing, making it very expensive to raise and care for their animals.
The Israelis, he pointed out, impose restrictions on the movement of shepherds under the pretext of army exercises on areas declared with no notice to be closed military zones. "This complicates our life and harms our economy which is based on grazing and bringing up animals."
The shepherds, added Bsharat, wait all year for Eidul Adha to sell their animals and make some money to cover their annual costs. "However, we were surprised by the Israeli restrictions imposed on moving lambs out of the Jordan Valley."
The occupation forces won't allow them to take their flocks to markets across the West Bank, and won't allow buyers to come to the shepherd's barns. "Buying a lamb from the Jordan Valley for a sacrifice then becomes a crime," he added. Potential buyers are often detained and have their vehicles impounded by the Israelis.
Bsharat said that he has 35 lambs ready for this season, but has only sold three. He hopes to be able to sell more in the coming days.