Accompanied by Israeli and international activists, the residents of the rural Palestinian community Ein Samia marched to their grazing land, located between the West Bank’s most notoriously violent settlement outposts.
By Oren Ziv
The community of Ein Samia is comprised of 40 families living adjacent to the settlement of Kochav Hashahar, just north of East Jerusalem in the West Bank. The Palestinian residents were expelled from the area in the 70s, when the IDF established a base there as part of the settlement. Since then, the villagers have been living on a nearby hill.
Six years ago, Kochav Hashahar’s outposts, often referred to as the Baladim outposts, began to spread, built by Jewish hilltop youth, whom are known to be among the most violent and extremist settlers in the West Bank. Lately, the attacks on Palestinian residents have been on the rise. Last week, say the villagers, a settler, accompanied by soldiers and a flock of sheep, approached one of the village homes. He tried to attack a Palestinian; the soldiers did the bare minimum, telling the victim of to speak to the police instead.
When he arrived at the police station, he was reportedly arrested and detained for nearly 72 hours. Following the incident, left-wing Israeli activists from the organization Ta’ayush got involved.
Two weeks ago, IDF forces demolished “Maoz Esther,” one of the Baladim outposts, located a kilometer from the fence that surrounds Kochav Hashahar. That very day, the hilltop youth began working on building a new outpost, and by the beginning of last week, a new structure was already in the works.
Last Wednesday, dozens of Israeli, Palestinian, and international activists joined the local activists for a solidarity visit to the grazing land, which belongs to Palestinians, but is located between the two outposts. The Palestinian owners are afraid of approaching without accompaniment. “If we go alone, the settlers immediately head down toward us and throw stones at us,” says H., a 50-year-old resident of Ein Samia.
The walk from Ein Samia to the grazing land is a long one. The area is rich in flora, in the past shepherds from the Jordan Valley would make their way to the area to graze. Today, Kochav Hashahar makes thart impossible. “We have 800 sheep,” tells me another resident as we walk in a long line across a precipice hundreds of meters long. In order to reach the grazing area, one must make...Read More