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Shepherd held for hours over grazing lands

June 8, 2011 7:26 P.M. (Updated: June 9, 2011 8:48 P.M.)
HEBRON (Ma’an) -- Israeli police detained a Hebron shepherd for hours on Tuesday, saying he had allowed his heard of sheep and goats to illegally enter a "closed military zone."

Bilal Hathaleen, 25 from the village of Um Al-Kheir in the south Hebron hills was grazing his flock not far from home when he was apprehended by police and told that he was in a zone too close to the nearby Karmel settlement.

After his release, the shepherd told Ma'an he had been detained for four hours, and had not been aware that the area was a closed zone.

"Already we have limited access to grazing lands," he said, lamenting prospects for adequately feeding his flock.

"Herders are regularly denied access to lands near Israeli settlements," Human rights activist Hisham Sharabati told Ma'an, saying he had received reports of settler violence and harassment from Karmel residents over the previous two days, that kept locals away from the area.

He said the issue was getting acute, since water wells for animals to drink from are located in the region south of the settlement.

Another Umm Al-Kheir resident, 40-year-old shepherd Yasser Hathaleen, told Ma'an that the day earlier, an Israeli soldier had kicked a she-goat, killing it.

Settlers throw stones repeatedly, he said, trying to usher shepherds out of their pasture land. "We make our living this way," he added, fearing "they want us to go so they can expand the settlement."
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