Haaretz, Dec. 9, 2016

Majdi Shtiyeh and his herd, in Salem this week. The grazing lands are now inaccessible.

Dozens of sheep were crowded along the slope. They don’t have anywhere to go from here. Even their feed is not feed, consisting of leftover thistles and autumn thorns. One shepherd reports that they are already eating one another: the wool of some has been plucked, exposing bare patches of skin. His uncle already sold his herd and now only he is left to carry on, in one way or another, herding his sheep on the tiny piece of grazing land that still remains accessible to his village, Salem, east of Nablus.

The picture is similar in the neighboring village, Deir al-Hatab. Twenty years ago it had 10,000 sheep, but now barely 200 remain. Israel is choking off the villages of these shepherds and their pasture, and transferring the lands to the large settlement up on the mountain, Elon Moreh, which long ago spread onto the nearby ridges.

There is nothing new about this, but over the years the situation has gotten worse. A new report issued this week by the Israeli nongovernmental organization B’Tselem outlines the methods employed by Israel. As Israel is being rocked by the political free-for-all that has accompanied passage of the bill to legalize West Bank outposts, out in the field the question is reduced to this: Who even needs such a law when the systematic disinheritance of the Palestinians from their lands has been going on for years, without any need of a law?

 

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