They returned again and again, on different pretexts and with the typical air of self-declared lords of the land, harassing shepherding communities both during the day and at night: On 16 February 2020, in the early afternoon, about ten settlers came to the community of Khirbet Jib’it in the Ramallah District. They went from tent to tent, saying they were “looking for stolen sheep.” A half-hour later, the same group, using the same pretext, came to the community of Qabun, located about a kilometer away.
Later that day, close to 9:00 P.M., settlers again descended on both these communities - some armed and carrying clubs. They went into a livestock pen and threatened the shepherds who hurried over. In Qabun, three shepherds were attacked with clubs. One of them, 60-year-old Hassan al-Kabash, was hit in the head and taken to a Ramallah hospital to have the wounds stitched. The other two suffered bruising.
A few weeks later, on 5 March 2020, while 'Umran Abu 'Alia and his family were busy milking their sheep, settlers arrived and snuck into the lambs pen, held 100 meters away from the lambs pen, and stole 25 lambs.
And what did the authorities do? Several days after that, on Monday afternoon, 9 March 2020, Civil Administration personnel arrived in Khirbet Jib’it with military jeeps, dismantled and confiscated two tents used as residences, two others used as livestock pens, a portable toilet and a generator. The tents and other items belong to two families with a total of 13 members, including eight minors.
A total of eleven families make up the sister communities of Khirbet Jib’it and Qabun. The two communities, where residents make their living from shepherding, share a traditional bond of solidarity and friendship. About 15 years ago, a settler took over the area that lies between their two hamlets and set up a livestock pen, tents and shacks, disconnecting the communities.
Abu’ Alia spoke to B’Tselem field researcher Salma a-Deb’i about these incidents and their impact on the community:
The settlers decided to take vengeance on us for the theft of their sheep and give themselves compensation at my expense! They stole the fruits of my labor, what I'd been waiting for the entire year and destroyed us completely. The sale of those lambs was supposed to sustain us for the whole year. Raising sheep is very difficult and involves lots of expenses. Young lambs, like the ones that were stolen from us, cost nearly 250 [Jordanian] Dinar each - a very large sum.
With the protection of the military base that’s nearby, the settlers put up their homes and shacks here and installed lighting in the whole area they took over, while we are forced to live without electricity, infrastructure, roads or a connection to the water supply. The military even dismantles and confiscates the tents we live in, not to mention the portable toilet Actionaid donated to us. Because of that, my four daughters, the oldest of whom is only five, now have to go to the toilet out in the open.
Khirbet Jib’it, 16 February and 5 March 2020, settlers assault shepherds and steal 25 lams.