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Israel’s plan to displace Palestinian shepherds from West Bank exposed

May 24, 2024 at 11:03 am

A Bedouin shepherd walks with his sheep in the Jordan Valley near West Bank city of Jericho on November 27, 2014 [ABBAS MOMANI/AFP via Getty Images]

The Israeli human rights centre B’Tselem yesterday revealed a plan by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to displace Palestinian shepherds from their lands in the occupied West Bank.

It said the plan is being executed in collaboration with illegal Israeli settlers and is part of the “Israeli apartheid regime”.

“In February and March 2024, B’Tselem documented some 20 incidents in which Israeli settlers and soldiers drove Palestinian shepherds out of pastureland in the South Hebron Hills.”

B’Tselem supported their statement with video footage documenting the expulsions. “These incidents are part of a deliberate pattern of settler actions meant to promote Israel’s policy of expulsion,” it added. The statement warned that these actions are “crucially affecting the survival of these communities.”

It also noted that Israel “is working to drive Palestinian pastoral communities out of their homes in the West Bank in order to take over their areas of habitation.”

Israel combines official practices, implemented by branches of the state such as the Civil Administration and the military, with an unofficial arm of organised settler violence and harassment in order to drive out Palestinian pastoral communities. The settlers drive shepherds out with threats and violence

it said.

“This combination is used, among other things, to limit the communities’ ability to set their flocks to graze, which damages their income – making them more vulnerable and easier to drive out,” it said.

It further pointed out that “in the last decade, dozens of ‘farms’ have been established by settlers in the West Bank, supported by the state but not officially authorised, in order to take over pastureland in Palestinian rural areas.”

Since 7 October, it explained, “many settlers involved in these violent acts have been deployed in the military ‘territorial defence’ unit or in emergency squads and given military weapons. This makes it impossible to distinguish when they are operating under military orders and when they are acting independently while in uniform.”

“State violence – both official and unofficial – is integral to the Israeli apartheid regime, which seeks to Judaize the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea,” the centre underscored.

B’Tselem added that “this regime views land as a resource meant to serve the Jewish public and therefore uses it almost exclusively to develop and expand existing Jewish settlements and establish new ones.”

Tensions have been running high across the West Bank since Israel launched a deadly military offensive against the Gaza Strip in October. At least 517 Palestinians have since been killed in the West Bank and over 4,900 others injured, according to the Ministry of Health.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, which in January issued an interim ruling that ordered it to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

Read: Illegal Israeli settlers attack Palestinian village in West Bank