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Occupation magazine - Life under occupation

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Settlers harass; Israeli soldiers demolish Palestinian tents

By Dianne Roe

29 January 2005

BANI NAIM, HEBRON DISTRICT -- While Um Yusef (family name withheld for
security reasons) was shepherding two days ago near Bani Naim, Israeli
settlers from nearby Pnei Khever settlement shot at her. She told CPTers
Dianne Roe and Barbara Martens her story as they visited with her in her
home on 26 January in the eastern hills of the Hebron district. Martens and
Roe went to the area along with a translator and three friends of the CPT
Hebron Team. They responded to a phone call from a woman of the Israeli
peace group, Machsoum (Checkpoint) Watch. The woman phoned Roe about
problems her group had witnessed the day before while traveling in the
Hebron district.

When CPT arrived on the scene, two shepherd boys told them what they had
witnessed. The Israeli army had bulldozed land and evacuated the shepherds
from their land the day before, demolishing shepherds` tents and the metal
fencing and gates nearby. The shepherd boys led CPT to their home, where Um
Yusef served tea and nursed her three-month-old baby.

Um Yusef said her husband had purchased the land ten years earlier and built
their modest home of adobe and metal. As she talked, her daughter made tea
over a fire on the dirt floor. She said that before 1948 their parents`
family had lived in Beersheba. Forced out of their home, they wandered as
refugees in the area of Bani Naim, continuing with their life as shepherds.
When they purchased land ten years ago, they had hoped they could be more
settled. The Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee (PARC) and other
groups helped fund a well for families in the area.

The children must walk two hours one way to school. The route is dangerous
because it passes by Pnei Khever. The settlers throw stones and sometimes
beat the children. Fares, Um Yusef`s son who is in the sixth grade, walks
that distance even though he is physically handicapped.

About five years ago the Israeli military served the family evacuation
notices. In the area to the south, the military forcibly evacuated
families, until a decision by the Israeli High Court in March 2000 ruled
that families should be allowed to return to their land. As Um Yusef looked
around at her children, she told CPT that once again she fears for them the
rigors of eviction: that they may have to wander about and live in tents, as
they did before they bought land and built a more permanent home.

As the CPTers returned to an area a few hundred yards from Um Yusef`s home,
they photographed the land where the shepherds` tents had been demolished
the day before. There they met Rabbi Arik Ascherman, of Rabbis for Human
Rights (RHR), who was also documenting the land confiscation near Pnei
Khever. Ascherman told the CPTers that he is working with lawyers who are
trying to protect the rights of the Bedouins near that settlement.

Photos of this encounter may be viewed at:

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