Who orders the Israeli army to chase out Israeli peace activists?
Woman-soldier: “This is Uri’s land (Uri – the settler-colonist from the Umm Zuka outpost) and you are not allowed to be here without his permission!”
At 10:30 we came to the declared nature reserve Umm Zuka to meet Guy and Yossi G. and accompany Iman and Diab from Samra to the grazing ground. Without Israelis present they cannot take their flocks to graze on their family’s grazing grounds, because Uri and his pals, settler-colonists from the pirate, illegal outpost chase them away with blows and threats.
We stood on the road crossing the nature reserve, rather close to the entrance.
An army hummer passed by and continued towards the illegal outpost. About 10 minutes later it came back and stopped next to us. A masked soldier (sergeant) and a woman soldier, two other women-soldiers remained inside the vehicle. The woman-soldier waved the papers and said, “You are not allowed to be here, this is Uri’s land, and you are not allowed to be here without his permission!” She was holding an order issued by her superior that forbids us to be inside the area marked on the map, but that area was not the one we were standing in.
That Uri erected his own outpost without any official permission, in the heart of the Umm Zuka nature reserve. The authorities issued orders to halt construction in the outpost but he is not impressed, and proceeds: a good sandstone track has been paved accessing “his” outpost, he receives water from the Israeli water company Mekorot through the settler-colony of Hemdat, and the Israeli army wastes resources and forces to back up his “right” to threaten and brutalize his Palestinian neighbors, plow land that is not his (in the heart of a firing zone), and chase away peace activists who come to protect the Palestinian shepherds.
I don’t know whether the order to shoo us away from a public track, open to anyone and everyone, was received by the soldiers directly from the settler-colonists. The fact is that they arrived without delay. According to the women-soldiers, gentle and polite, they follow the orders they receive from their superiors.
The sergeant was coarse and brutal, grabbed the order from Yossi who wished to look it over, chased off the Palestinian shepherds with curses as they grazed alongside the track (I’ll fuck you all…), and nearly beat Guy who stood between him and the Palestinians trying to prevent his chasing them away. He detained us for an hour after summoning the police, and then heard that the police will not come, probably because the policemen knew there is no reason to keep us away.
Khalat Makhoul – congratulations! Rima and Ashraf now have a fourth child, newly born.
At Bourhan’s, two lams died yesterday and another two today. Last year all his lambs died (about 200) from a sheep epidemic, and he is now truly terrified. A Palestinian veterinarian visited as we came, and prescribed two medications, if one will not help he should try the second within two days (the second medication is expensive and available only in Israel). We shall try to help.
At the entrance to Akraba village we saw two tanks, many soldiers, two bulldozers, and many children from the villages of Akraba and Tyassir roaming around them, curious. An extensive Israeli military maneuver is taking place in the Palestinian Jordan valley these days. For this reason, 13 families from Ibzik have been forced away from their homes on the night of December 16 – including children, women, the elderly and the ailing, and had to spend this freezing night exposed to the weather outside. Today another three families were forced away from their homes for six hours. On December 23, 26, and 27 the same families will again have to leave their homes so that ‘our’ soldiers can practice soldiering at a place where humans dwell (perhaps Palestinians are not considered human by the “most moral army in the world”?)
We passed by the entrance to Akaba and entered Tyassir to visit Mahdi. As we sat in his home he heard shots right next to us. We were startled! Mahdi calmed us down, saying this was nothing – just children throwing stones at Israeli soldiers, and the soldiers shooting at them. Routine everyday stuff in the life of a people under occupation.