Settlement guard attacks Ein El Hilwe shepherd

Mahdi Qudry Daraghmeh, Ein El HilwehMahdi Qudry Daraghmeh, Ein El HilwehOn Friday 3rd February 2012 a shepherd from Ein El Hilwe was attacked by the security guard of Rotem settlement whilst grazing his sheep on the hillside.

Mahdi Qudry Daraghmeh, 23, was approached at 11am by Didi, the security guard from Rotem, an illegal agricultural colony located on a hill near the community.

He said: ”Didi walked up to me and beat me over the head. I fell to the ground and he told me not to walk on this land again.”

On November 6, his brother Oday Daraghmeh, 18, was arrested by Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) for grazing his sheep on another hill in Ein El Hilwe in a designated ‘closed military zone’.

Oday was taken 15km from where he was arrested and tied to a bench outside a military outpost using plastic cable ties.

IOF have declared the land of Ein El Hilwe, and surrounding area, a closed military zone. They use this to legally justify the forced displacement of Palestinians living there. Despite the abundance of water in the area, Palestinians are prohibited from: renovating existing structures, building new homes, running water or electricity to their homes and building community infrastructure such as schools or health clinics.

In contrast, illegal Israeli only settlements built on confiscated land are given full access to all services and government support to expand their communities.

Ein El Hilwe community

Ein El Hilwe is a Bedouin community located in the north west of the Jordan Valley. The village consists of around 130 people and is strategically located next to one of the few natural springs in the Jordan Valley that has not been confiscated by the Israeli government. The village takes its name from this spring: Ein El Hilwe (Sweet Spring). The village itself is located off of the main highway in the Jordan Valley, at the foot of surrounding hills. Taken out of context of the Israeli occupation, Ein El Hilwe would be a picturesque manifestation of simplicity and tranquillity. The spring provides enough clean water for the whole village and the land is fertile, good for crops and also grazing the villagers’ animals.

Unfortunately for the residents of the community, Ein El Hilwe is surrounded by five illegal Israeli settlements and is situated in a designated military firing area. One of these settlements, Maskyiot stands on the top of the small hill which directly over-looks the main area of the village. Maskyiot settlers are notoriously violent and regular attacks on the community are perpetrated by the settlers with impunity. As Maskiyot has expanded in recent years, they have worked hand-in-hand with the Israeli army to pressurise Palestinians to leave the area. The spring is watched by the setters and the Palestinian villagers’ are attacked when they try to access it.  The animals owed by Palestinians in Ein El Hilwe are not allowed to roam in the areas outside the centre of the village, and the farmers whose animals do stray are fined and sometimes the animals are confiscated by the Israeli Army. The village has been demolished in the past and its inhabitants are still living under the constant threat of demolition.

(www.jordanvalleysolidarity.org / 05.02.2012)

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