Shepherds Arrested in the South Hebron Hills

17:00 Mar 19 2012 Al-Tuwani

HEBRON, March 21, 2012 (WAFA) – Israeli police and army units arrested two Palestinian shepherds while grazing on the hills surrounding the village of Al-Tuwani, in the south Hebron hills, a press release by Operation Dove said Wednesday.

On March 19, at around 5:00 p.m., a 23-year-old Palestinian shepherd was temporarily detained by the army accompanied by the chief security of Ma'on settlement and by a settler coming from the illegal outpost of Havat Ma'on, said the release.

The young man was pasturing in a valley not far from the Palestinian village of Tuba.

Then the police arrived and arrested the shepherd at 6:30 p.m. after holding him in the cold for over one hour. He was released at around midnight the same day after the payment of a bail of $130.

On March 20, at 11:15 a.m., a 20-year-old Palestinian shepherd was dismissed from the site where he was grazing at first, and later arrested by the Israeli army, again in presence of Ma'on' security chief.

Attending to Palestinian testimonies, the soldiers threatened him of physical violence before taking him on the armored vehicle.

At around 4:00 p.m., the Palestinian was released after having been transferred to Kiryat Arba settlement police station.

The Palestinian was grazing on a hill on top of which the Ma'on settlement has been expanding since 2009. Since September 2011, five new buildings are under construction on top of the hill, limiting further access to the Palestinians of the area.

No charges were made against any of the shepherds, neither to the international observers present during the incidents, nor to the lawyers following the cases, said the release.

The fact that the army operates in collaboration with the Israeli settlers is a custom in the South Hebron Hills. In ten cases since the beginning of the year the international volunteers have registered coordination between the soldiers and the Ma'on' security officer, a private Israeli security guard, in military operations aimed to send away or arrest Palestinian shepherds.

The number of Palestinian shepherds arrested in the last month has now risen to seven.

Operation Dove has maintained an international presence in At-Tuwani and South Hebron Hills since 2004.

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