Settlers push Palestinian farmer escorted by Israeli activists and drive his flock out with kicks, Khirbet Zanutah, south of Hebron
On the morning of 17 April 2021, brothers Amin (34) and Bassem (42) al-Khdeirat were out grazing their flock, accompanied by Israeli activists, about 300 meters away from the homes of their community. Suddenly, about five settlers appeared and began shouting at them in order to drive them away. One settler, known to the residents as “Eli,” pushed Bassem al-Khdeirat and the other settlers kicked some of the sheep. The brothers had to gather their flock and leave the area.
The settlers arrived from an outpost that was established on a nearby hill in early April this year, about 100 meters from the community. Since the outpost’s establishment, the residents of Khirbet Zanutah have been suffering repeated harassment and limited access to grazing areas.
The Mount Hebron Regional Council established an industrial area about a kilometer east of the community and installed solar panels in the fields. Israel erected the Separation Barrier about 1.5 kilometers south of the community.
In a testimony she gave B’Tselem field researcher Musa Abu Hashhash, the shepherds’ sister, Maryam al-Khdeirat (54), described how her brothers and the rest of the community have suffered since the outpost was established:
I live with my brother Amin and help graze the flock my three brothers raise. The flock is the entire community’s source of livelihood. The other women in the village and I milk the sheep, make cheese, gather dry firewood and bring food to our brothers and husbands while they’re grazing the flock. In summer, I grow vegetables for the family in the flatland of the valley near the village.
In early April, a settler set up an outpost on top of the hill opposite our village, about 100 meters away. Since then, our lives have been disrupted and we’ve started worrying about our livelihood and our future. The settler stops us from taking the sheep out to pasture far from the village and uses a drone to watch us. When we graze the flock, he comes over and threatens us with weapons. He also grazes his flock among our crops.
Since the settler attacked my two brothers and threatened them, I haven’t dared go far from the village to gather firewood as I did for years. I have no choice but to boil milk on a camping stove, which costs us a lot of money. A few days ago, while I was boiling the milk, the settlers’ drone hovered over my head and scared me. I’ve also stopped taking food out to my brothers in the pasture, and my nephews are scared to do it, too.
The new outpost limits our movement around the village and our access to pastureland. I now stay in the village and focus on making dairy products. My brother Amin doesn’t go far with the sheep. He grazes them nearby and comes back earlier because there’s nowhere to go. Last week he bought a large amount of fodder. I heard my brothers talking about how much it cost and I know they’re very worried.
We’re used to living in out in the open and moving freely. We were born here and used to lead a good life with a good income. We made a living from our dairy products and relied on the pastureland without buying a lot of fodder. We used dry wood for heating, cooking and boiling milk, and a cistern filled with winter rains to water the flock. Now, that’s also too dangerous because the settlers threaten the shepherds when they go to the cistern and steal the water buckets. I don’t see how we can grow the vegetables we used to rely on in summer. All these things are expensive – fodder, gas, water and vegetables, which we now have to buy.
We don’t know what to do and how we’ll make a living if the outpost stays here and its residents continue attacking us.