‘Israeli soldiers render Bedouin family shelterless'

Palestinian Bedouin family with children is spending winter nights in open after Israeli soldiers demolish tents and bar sheep from grazing.

‘Israeli soldiers render Bedouin family shelterless'

A Bedouin family that included two children are spending cold winter nights under the open sky for over a fortnight in the village of Ein Samiya, 40 kilometers (24 miles) east of Ramallah -- administrative capital of the Palestinian National Authority.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Mustafa Kaabneh, a sheep farmer and father of Yasmeen, 7, and Waad, 4, said the Israeli authorities have demolished his shelter and confiscated tent and other equipment used for sheep rearing.

He said that he has lost some $10,000, because of demolition and has been threatened further displacement if he reconstructs his home.

Israeli authorities aim to force Bedouin families living in Ein Samiya to leave their village to accommodate Jewish settlers. These families had been earlier displaced from Al-Auja village on the northeast of Jericho after the war of 1967.

“All of us here rear sheep, but the settlers banned us from reaching the grasslands and the army protects them all the time,” said Kaabneh.

According to the Bedouins, the settlers have occupied more nearly 90% of the total area of the grassland and are not allowing them to continue with the farming.

“When my father was displaced from his village he lived here and worked on sheep farming. Our suffering renewed in 1979 when the settlement of Kohav Hashahar was founded. From that time until today we are exposed to the assaults by the settlers who are protected by the army soldiers,” said the farmer.

He said the Israeli soldiers arrested his cousin recently because his livestock was grazing in a mountain.

“The army forced my cousin to pay 8000 shekels ($2532) as a fine. He had to sell half of his flock sheep to pay the penalty,” said Kaabneh.

The reduction of grazing space has forced farmers to sell part of the flock to buy fodder for the remaining sheep, while the settlers are allowed to graze their sheep freely without any cost.

Threat of displacement

When three months ago Kaabneh had taken his sheep far away from the settler areas to allow them to graze in a safe area, the army officers threatened him.

On Nov. 23, the army demolished the tents that and confiscated everything Kaabneh had in the home, leaving them to spend winter nights under the open sky.

“The relief organizations may give me a new metallic skeleton and tents. But this will not stop the Israeli threatens. After a few days from the demolition the officer again threatened that he will demolish everything again,” Kaabneh said.

The Bedouin communities in the northeast of Ramallah are exposed to a systematic demolition process for several years. They say, that Israeli authorities want to clear the area to prepare the area for more Jewish settlements.

Living without electricity and other means, Kaabneh has been facing the ire of settlers. He has to accompany his daughter every day to reach school, which is 6 km (3.3 mi) away.

With his family still living without electricity, Kaabneh said he is facing many difficulties in taking his daughters to their school, which is far away through the desolate mountains.

“The public transportation never reaches our community, and it is not safe for my children to use the public transportation on Ayalon street which is a settlement main road. Any time they are vulnerable to the settler violence,” he said.

Hüseyin Demir