Palestinian Hillside Poisoned, Likely By Maon and Havat Maon Settlers – by Operation Dove
Early this morning, March 22, 2005, the Palestinian shepherds of At- Tuwani discovered that the hillside next to Havat Maon outpost was covered in tiny green poison pellets, affecting more than 20 dunam of land. The pellets were strategically placed under bushes on which the sheep usually graze, prompting the shepherds to quickly move their flocks from the hill. The poison was also placed close to one of the village’s major water sources and it is unclear whether this has also been poisoned.
The shepherds immediately called the Israeli police who eventually arrived to take samples, pictures and statements. The shepherds are unsure when the hill will be cleaned and when they can return with their sheep.
Settlers from Maon and Havat Maon have a long history of harassing village residents, poisoning their wells, destroying property and beating residents. In the last two months alone, international volunteers have recorded at least 20 incidents of settler violence against South Hebron Hill shepherds who are grazing their sheep. In fact, only five days before this recent poisoning, a Maon settler security officer told international volunteers that he wanted a "demarcation zone" around the settlement where neither Palestinians nor settlers could go. He warned that if the village did not agree to such a zone, he had "ways of making it happen."
The shepherds of At-Tuwani will not be able to graze on the hillside next to the Israeli outpost of Havot Maon for a while, leaving even less space to graze. Two weeks ago the Israeli military informed villagers that the area south of the village had been made into a military firing zone and they were forbidden from grazing their sheep there. The shepherds have been prevented from grazing to the north of the village, as they are prohibited from crossing the Israeli settler road. To the west of At-Tuwani, shepherds have undergone illegal harassment from both settlers and soldiers as they tried to graze within 400 meters of Maon settlement.
Israeli settlements, including Maon, are illegal according to international law. The outpost of Havat Maon, along with other outposts in South Hebron Hills, are illegal according to both international and Israeli law. [See also WW4 REPORT #103]
See our last post on the Occupied Territories.