Occupied West Bank | Shepherds at the outposts of the settlers

(Deir Jarir (Palestinian Territories)) In the West Bank, Palestinian farmers say they are helplessly watching their land being grabbed by Jewish shepherds who are driving their flocks into this territory occupied by Israel to settle in illegal “outposts” .


Made up of often precarious structures, these wild outposts are illegal under Israeli law and are regularly evacuated and dismantled by the authorities, which does not dissuade their occupants from returning and rebuilding.

From afar, from his village of Deir Jarir, Haidar Abou Makho, 50, looks in disappointment at the settlers’ sheep grazing on a grassy hill in the Ramallah region.

This land “belongs to my grandfather and my father and is supposed to be passed down from generation to generation,” he regrets.

But “this shepherd, who is a settler (…) prevented me from accessing my land” where we can see settlers’ bungalows and cars, all surrounded by a metal fence.

Three million Palestinians live in the West Bank, territory occupied by Israel since 1967, and nearly 490,000 Israelis are settled there in colonies considered illegal under international law.

This territory has been the scene for two years of an outbreak of violence, exacerbated by the attack on October 7 by Hamas commandos infiltrated from Gaza in the south of Israel, which in retaliation triggered the war against the Palestinian Islamist movement in power since 2007 in the Gaza Strip.

PHOTO RANEEN SAWAFTA, REUTERS

The occupied West Bank has been the scene of an outbreak of violence for two years.

Israeli forces carry out almost daily raids in the occupied West Bank, saying they want to fight against Palestinian armed groups, against a backdrop of attacks by Palestinians against Israeli targets, as well as violence committed by Israeli settlers against Palestinians. .

“Extremists”

Human rights groups have blamed hard-line religious and nationalist settlers for the surge in attacks, but also for the land grabs from Palestinians.

Among the most radical are the “hill youth,” often teenagers who have dropped out of school and dream of colonizing the entire West Bank, which they consider part of the biblical land of Israel.

According to Israeli analyst Elhanan Miller, these herdsmen are “right-wing extremists who are illegally settling on Palestinian lands”, mainly in the southern West Bank and the Jordan Valley.

PHOTO ZAIN JAAFAR, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

The Israeli settlement of Rimonim sits atop a hill near the Palestinian village of Deir Jarir, east of the city of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

Mr Miller told AFP that many of them were “marginalized” young people who left school early and herded sheep and goats to grab land and natural resources.

NGOs say settlers in the herdsmen’s outposts are armed and have used attack dogs and drones to threaten and attack Palestinians, sometimes killing their livestock and destroying their property.

The settlers have been particularly active around Deir Jarir, a village of around 5,000 inhabitants, according to residents.

” Defenseless ”

“By installing a shepherd with a flock of sheep on top of a hill, a considerable part of the land is seized (…), preventing Palestinians from accessing it,” denounced one of them.

He added that the settlers had “seized” houses and tractors, as well as horses and donkeys, “vital tools and symbols of traditional Palestinian agricultural life.”

The Israeli NGO Peace Now reported that since the start of the year, Israel had seized more than 1,000 hectares of land in the West Bank.

The Israeli human rights association B’Tselem estimated in a report in March that settler attacks had increased in the West Bank, affirming that the latter benefited from the support of Israeli security forces.

“Through cooperation and collaboration between the army, police and settlers (…), Israel has reduced the grazing areas accessible to Palestinians, blocked the regular water supply and taken measures to isolate the Valley of the Jordan River from the rest of the West Bank,” according to B’Tselem.

Near Deir Jarir, residents of the neighboring village of Taybeh say they are also unable to access their land, “invaded by numerous shepherds from the hills,” declared Souleiman Khouriyeh, mayor of this commune of 1,800 inhabitants.

Residents have “neither the power nor the strength to confront heavily armed settlers,” he said. “We are defenseless against them and their weapons. »


reference: www.lapresse.ca

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