I own a flock of goats and sheep. I have around 50 sheep and ten goats. The flock is my main source of income. I take the flock to graze twice a day: once in the morning at 5 am, and in the afternoon at 3 pm. I usually take the flock out to graze for about three or four hours. Now, during the Ramadan, I take the herd out grazing for about two or three hours. I herd the flock once on the southern side of the village, below the settlement Yizhar, and once on the eastern side of the village – below the settlement Har Bracha (in this area I also have an almond grove which was burned). I usually herd my flock together with my neighbor AN or with my brother-in-law, who also own sheep.
On Thursday September 11, 2008 I took the goats and sheep out to graze as usual. AN and I went to the eastern side of the village, below the settlement Har Bracha. We got there at 3 or 3:15 pm and the flock grazed there as usual. We were surprised because over the last two weeks there hadn’t been any incidents, not on the Yizhar side or on the Har Bracha side, this is unusual for the settlers.
In the evening, at 5-5:15 pm we started down the hill towards the village, so we’d get home around 6 pm to break the fast. I took the donkeys, my donkey and AN’s donkey were tethered to each other, and the flock was behind me. AN was in the rear, behind the herd. AN came up to me because we wanted to split up and each take his donkey. While we were undoing the knot that tethered the donkeys to each other, several goats and sheep wandered off from the flock. When I turned around to gather them, I noticed a settler with an M-16 rifle crouched on the ground in a firing position, aiming his weapon at us. Next to him was another settler who was unarmed. They were about 15 meters from us, under a tree. I saw them right in front of me.
I shouted to AN to retreat towards the village with the flock. The flock started running and the two donkeys were left behind. AN went back to bring the donkeys. Right after I saw the settler, he fired a first shot in the air. Then I saw the second settler bending over and collecting the bullet casing. When the settlers saw us heading west towards the village, they started chasing us. They got closer and closer. We continued downhill towards the village, and they stood by a terrace above us, about 30 meters from us. The settler fired another bullet that hit one of the sheep in the stomach. AN was trying to bring the donkeys. He was behind me, closer to the settlers. The settler fired another bullet and hit another sheep. The bullet hit this sheep in the chest and part of her insides began pouring out. This sheep died immediately. The settler fired a fourth bullet and hit another sheep in the abdomen. He shot a fourth bullet that hit a sheep in the leg, and its leg broke. He aimed each shot especially in order to hurt the sheep.
When I saw the sheep falling dead to the ground, I stopped, I was in shock.
AN struggled with the donkeys to get them down the hill. The settler fired another bullet and hit my donkey. My donkey is older than AN’s donkey. The bullet hit him in the heart, and the donkey collapsed and died instantly. When the settlers saw that the donkey was dead and that we began to move away, they ran towards the mountain ridge that leads to the settlement Har Bracha. They didn’t go straight up towards the ridge, instead they made a detour. It took them about 15 minutes to reach the top of the ridge. There was a blue Subaru on the top of the ridge. There was nobody inside the vehicle. They got into the car and drove towards the road.
We informed an officer from the Israeli DCO about what had happened. I also told my brothers-in-law and my children. A lot of people came from the village. The Israeli DCO arrived in less than 15 minutes. There’s a lookout tower by settlement Har Bracha. Because it took them less than 15 minutes to get there and since the DCO jeep drove on the same road the settlers did, I think there’s a good chance they saw each other on the road along the way. The white DCO jeep arrived, but they didn’t drive down to us because there’s no access to cars. The DCO officers phoned me from the jeep and asked me where I was. I told them I was down below and that I could see them. He made sure I was the one down below and then they came down on foot. It was nearly 6 pm.
About 20 people arrived, soldiers and the DCO officers. I didn’t recognize the DCO guy who arrived, I don’t know his name. He was short. One of my children told the DCO officer that they must have passed the blue Subaru with the settlers who shot the flock. One of the DCO people, not the officer, said that there was only a woman in the Subaru.
During the oral investigation the police also arrived: two policemen and a policewoman accompanied by three border policemen. They questioned me but did not take my testimony in writing. One of the border police officers and the policewoman photographed the sheep and the dead donkey. They even took me over to the tree where the settler had stood and photographed me demonstrating the position he knelt in when I saw him. The soldiers started searching for the empty shells. I told them that there was no point in looking for the shells, because the second settler had gathered them. One of the ewes who was hit first was dying. One of the soldiers suggested we slaughter her. We slaughtered her because we had no choice.
It was already 9 pm. We had missed the breaking of the fast, which is around 7 pm. We went home and broke our fast. Then someone called and I understood he was from the police, asking me about the incident. He spoke Arabic. I don’t know who he was. He took my full testimony with all the details of the incident and asked me to come to the police station. I said I could meet at the entrance to the village. He said he’d call me back, but he never did.
The next morning, Friday September 12, 2008 at about 9:30 am, another policeman called me and asked whether I was willing to go to the police station in Ariel. I told him I had to go to Friday prayers. He said he’d call me back. The policeman called me after prayers and said that he would not be on duty on Saturday, but that I shoud come to testify in Huwarah. We arranged to meet at the roundabout by the checkpoint on Saturday at 10:00 am. He gave me two phone numbers to call in case they were late. On Saturday at around 7:30-8 am, that same policeman called and told me not to go to Huwarah, and to go to the officer I know at the DCO on Sunday at 10 am. I didn’t go there on Sunday because in my experience with this officer, either he’s not in the office or I wait outside for two and a half hours and he doesn’t see me in the end. I’m not willing for him to do the same thing again and make me run around. After that, nobody contacted me.
The settler who did the shooting had a big kippah, long sidelocks and a beard. He was wearing a brown shirt that came down below his knees, he was 25-30 years old. The second settler wore the same: a brown shirt, big kippah, he had sidelocks and a beard. He was blonde, so were his beard and sidelocks. I also gave the police the description of the settlers. They asked me whether I could identify the settlers and said I could identify them for certain.
I own five sheep, four goats and a donkey. On Thursday September 11, 2008 I went out with Abu Morsi (Walid ‘Eid) to herd the flock. Sometimes we go out together with our flocks. I work in Ramallah, so sometimes my brother or my cousin herd the flock. We went out in the afternoon around 3 pm, 3:15 pm to the area below the settlement Har Bracha. We were in an area that’s very far from the settlement. We didn’t expect the settlers to come there because we were far from them. The settlers usually don’t come. We’re usually careful.
At 5 – 5:15 pm, as we were about to gather the donkeys and the flock and go back to the village, I heard Abu Morsi shout that there were settlers and that I should gather the flock and run. Abu Morsi just managed to warn me when I saw a settler with an M-16 crouching in a firing position and then he shot the first bullet. I was a little farther back. The flock gathered together in a tight circle, and I didn’t see whether any of them were hit by the bullet. After the first shot, Abu Morsi began walking in front of the lambs to lead them back to the village. Using a black ribbon, I signaled to the flock to run. I tried to make them move faster. The goats began walking down rapidly, but the donkeys that were tethered to each other slowed us down. I stayed by the donkeys and tried to release them, but I couldn’t. Most of the goats and sheep had overtaken us, and a small part of the flock stayed behind me, higher up. While the flock and donkeys began to walk with me, I saw the two settlers standing above us by the terrace, about 30 meters from us. The settler aimed the M-16 and started firing shot after shot.
Previously when there were incursions with the settlers, they fired in the air or at our feet to frighten us but this time he sniped at the flock. I told Abu Morsi that if the settler was aiming at the flock and shooting to kill and not just to scare us, he might shoot us too.
I didn’t notice whether and how many sheep were hit until the settler shot the donkey. I saw that the sheep had been hit only after the flock began to walk down the hill and the sheep that were injured stayed on the ground. I saw that after the donkey fell and died, the settlers began running away toward the mountain ridge. They made a big detour on foot. I didn’t see what happened when they reached the top of the ridge.
I didn’t see the settlers well because I was busy with the donkeys and the sheep that were left behind. Abu Morsi saw them better than I did. He was also the one who saw them first.
Abu Morsi called the Israeli DCO and then people arrived from the DCO, the police and the army. After the policemen and the DCO and the army arrived, one of the policemen said that I had to go with them to Ariel to give my testimony. Then they came back and took my name and phone number and they said they would contact me. Nobody contacted me since then.