Saturday, June 19 2010 grazing in Sussya

Early in the morning we went out to graze. Members of the family were already prepared, but they were not the only ones who awaited us there. An army jeep parked by the hill stood quietly, but within it the soldiers were already calling for reinforcements in order to control the children, the activists and the goats grazing peacefully in the area allowed by the law-court and the Civil Administration. The land is almost adjacent to the family’s houses, between the hill and the army observation post and the jeep. Every week the family tries to graze on the land, and every week the army stops them. When the activists arrive the soldiers are obliged to invent a reason for evicting them, which gives a few more minutes of grazing (and often also prime time at the police station). According to all legal instances grazing is permitted on this land and the army may not interfere. All but that on the site.

Within a few minutes eight soldiers arrived and asked what we were doing. They requested us to leave, we asked why – and of course they had no answer. While the reinforcements were coming and the goats continued to feed we tried to speak to the soldiers and to their commander. We showed them the documents, the approvals and the maps. We explained that we were on land permitted for grazing. However, we were not left in peace.

While the commanders were consulting (namely, going to the jeep to find a piece of paper to sign on like an order) the soldiers stood and laughed at the cries of the Palestinian woman and our efforts. (לא ברור!) a few minutes later the second in command returned and with all seriousness but without any authority signed the order in our presence and after repeated requests showed it to us for a fleeting moment, without letting us see it properly or photograph it. He completely ignored the fact that he needed a higher rank and a better excuse in order to evict us. Apparently he didn’t completely understand that we were photographing him in order to show the court of law the illegal actions of the army. When we asked his name he answered “the Commander”.  As we are not under his command, and after we begged him to identify himself when acting as a policeman towards us, he gave in and left us (“you have three minutes”).