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Women's Voices: Shifa R. - Settler violence

 Name:  Shifa R.
 Age:  17
 Location:  Khirbet 'Ein ad Duyuk village, West Bank
 Nature of incident:  Settler violence
 Date of incident:  23 May 2012
 
On 23 May 2012, a 17-year-old Bedouin woman and her aunt are chased by Israeli soldiers and settlers as they graze the family’s herd of sheep and goats, near Jericho, in the occupied West Bank.
 
Seventeen-year-old Shifa lives in a small Bedouin community near Jericho, in the West Bank. “My family owns sheep and goats and I often go out into the fields near our house to graze them,” says Shifa. In about 1994, an Israeli settler known as “Shlomo” started building about 400 metres from the village, and he was later joined by other settlers.
 
“On 23 May 2012, at about 7:00 am, I left the house with my aunt Kifah to graze the sheep and goats as usual,” recalls Shifa. “We wanted to go to the area between the village and the small settlement where about 50 settlers now live. This area does not belong to the settlement but the settlers, especially Shlomo, don’t let us use it. They want us to leave that area so that they can take it over.”
 
“When we left the house in the morning we asked one of our relatives, Nawal, to keep an eye out for Shlomo and to alert us if she sees him. Nawal sat on a nearby hill overlooking the area and watched. While walking with the herd we heard Nawal shouting, telling us to be careful because an army jeep was in the area. When we heard this we decided to head down to the Wadi to avoid the jeep. All of a sudden we saw the jeep make a quick turn, stirring up a lot of dust. We could not see anything because of the dust but we could still hear the sound of the jeep. My aunt and I were very scared and didn’t know what to expect. It felt like we were being targeted. We retreated. At this moment we saw Shlomo in his car driving behind us. We realised this must have been planned by the soldiers and Shlomo to either capture us or force us out of the area,” says Shifa.
 
“Four soldiers carrying guns stepped out of the jeep and started shouting at us in Arabic saying 'come here, come here’, gesturing with their hands in a way that made it clear to us they wanted us to come closer to them. We were scared and ignored their request and started to run back home with the goats. Shlomo continued to chase us but we ran as fast as we could and made it safely back to the house. My aunt and I quickly changed our clothes so that they wouldn’t identify us. We could hardly catch our breath and were scared and worried that Shlomo might cause us harm or the soldiers might arrest us.”
 
“We kept an eye on what was going on outside the house through the windows and we saw the soldiers looking in our direction from a distance of about 50 meters,” recalls Shifa, who saw Shlomo join the soldiers who started to talk with each other. “After about half-an-hour I saw one of the soldiers pointing to my house. I was afraid and thought they might raid the house. The soldiers then moved away but Shlomo remained for another 20 minutes or so and then left. We did not take the goats and sheep back into the fields that day; we felt it was too dangerous. When this happens we have to give the animals feed that costs us a lot of money,” says Shifa.
 
“This is not the first time that such an incident has happened to us. Settlers have stolen our goats in the past and Shlomo harasses us almost every day and when it is not Shlomo, it is the soldiers. They have one objective; to kick us out of this area so that they can take it. My whole body shivers, even now nearly a month later, as I remember what happened. Shlomo is making our lives a nightmare. Herding our goats and sheep is our only source of income, we know nothing else, this is our capital, and we own nothing else. Herding has become a source of fear and anxiety, not a source of income. I wish my life was without Shlomo and the other settlers,” says Shifa.
 
WCLAC has recently documented seven cases in which Bedouin women near Jericho report being harassed by an Israeli settler known as “Shlomo”.
 

 


keyword: Violence against women