Rashash - above the Jordan Valley

Observers: 
Rita Mendes-Flohr reporting, Guy Hirshfeld driving
Nov-6-2019
|
Morning
closeup on horses head

07:00 – 19:00

 

As we arrive, we receive word from the young Palestinian Bedouin shepherd that the settlers are already there, one of them on a horse. The previous day, the Bedouin were physically threatened by these hilltop youth from the adjacent outpost "Angels of Peace" (sic) and so we rush to join them.

We find two young settlers with their flock of sheared, white sheep - hilltop youth that are generally marginal youth from the city or other settlements, who have dropped out of all other frameworks and find a home in the wild west atmosphere of these illegal outposts.

The boys don't even seem to herd their own sheep, but stay very, very close to us and the Bedouin herd, almost bumping against us, if not running into us, photographing us all the time, as we photograph them in the now familiar dance. One settler photographs a Bedouin boy, a kafiye around his head, throwing stones to keep his goats away from the settler flock, and the settler youth records himself saying: "here is a masked Palestinian throwing stones". He goes on to say, "here they are about to steal our sheep, by mixing with our herd" when the Bedouin was trying to keep his goats away. That is how lies start.

In light of yesterday's incident, and the army's relatively positive response then, Guy Hirschfeld reports the potentially explosive situation to the army, while in the meantime the settlers have called their head-settler, Elhanan, who arrives on his all terrain vehicle, and also stands threateningly close to the Bedouin flock.

When the army arrives, a new unit of reserve soldiers, the commander does not come to us first, but drives straight to Elhanan, giving him a friendly handshake. So they appear to be buddies. The commander, looking much like a settler himself, and most likely is one, tells us "in order to avoid friction" the Bedouins must move down across the wadi. That an agreement has been reached to divide up the grazing lands - and they must move across the line - to the other side of the wadi - where there desert starts and there is not much for the goats to eat....

So this officer is clearly serving the interests of the settlers from the illegal outpost. We ask who told him about such an agreement - which is news to us and to the Bedouin - and the commander says he got the command from "higher up". Well, now they don't declare the land "closed military zone" as they used to, because then the settler flocks too would have to leave - but come up with an arbitrary "agreement" that would eventually starve the Bedouin herds.

And that is exactly what the settlers are after. It is not a question of dividing up the grazing grounds fairly (there is plenty of grass closer to the outpost) - but the entire point of keeping a flock of sheep is to roam as wide a terrain as possible, and to drive the Palestinians off their lands