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Settlers 'steal 150 sheep' near Hebron

Oct. 1, 2011 6:59 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 2, 2011 7:46 P.M.)
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Armed Israeli settlers seized 150 sheep from shepherds south of Hebron in the southern West Bank, a popular committee leader said.

Popular committee secretary-general Azmi Shoyoukhi told Ma'an that residents of Shima, a settlement east of al-Dhahiriya, stole sheep belonging to Faris Samamrah.

They took the sheep to Shima settlement after assaulting several shepherds and threatening to shoot them if they returned to the area, the local official said.

Meanwhile, other residents of the same settlement chopped down 10 olive trees belonging to Mousa Samamrah, Shouyoukhi said, adding that settlers destroyed 45 trees in the same field on Thursday.

Shouyoukhi said locals held a rally to protest the theft of the sheep, joined by Majdi Amr, director of the south Hebron office of the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Agriculture.

International and Israeli activists participated in the rally, and held a sit-in in the area where the sheep were stolen, waving Palestinian flags and chanting anti-settlement slogans. Protesters damaged water pipelines laid down by settlers in the area.

Israeli police and civil administration officers arrived and the sheep were released after representatives of the Red Cross intervened, Shouyoukhi said.

Earlier Saturday, Israeli settlers burned farmland south of Nablus in the northern West Bank, a Palestinian Authority official said.

Ghassan Doughlas, who monitors settler violence and vandalism, said land in the Einabus and Huwwara villages burned as the result of a fire set by residents of the illegal Yitzhar settlement.

The settlers had started a fire on the Einabus mountain but it spread to Huwwara, he said.

Residents of Yitzhar settlement also chopped down 45 olive trees belonging to Zakariyya Nassar and Muhammad al-Qitin in Madma village on Saturday, Doughlas said.

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