Update on Operation Dove from Jenba, August 12-19, 2004
August 12. Meeting with local population. Gathered the following information: in 1966 in Jenba there were about 1000 people (25,000 in Yatta). In 1985-86 there were 40 houses, a mosque, an ancient (still visible) swimming pool, and 500 olive and fig trees and vines. In that year everything was destroyed by the army
In the winter of 1998, soldiers collected and took away clothing, blankets, pillows and other goods from Jenba and Bir el’Id and gave them to the settlers of Carmel.
In 1999 soldiers evacuated the population of Bir el’Id. No Palestinian can live there any more. From that time, shepherds who ventured unto the grounds were chased away, and sometimes beaten either by soldiers or by settlers.
In 1999 a 15 year old shepherd from Jenba (Khalid Yussuf Abu Aram) was killed when he stepped on a mine while walking his sheep. The mine was a remnant of military operations. From 1999 soldiers have regularly used Jenba as training grounds.
Today there are only 8 families in Jenba.
For a year now, Doctors Without Borders go to Jenba and to nearby villages once a month. On Friday, several serveece pass by Jenba going toward Yatta full of illegal workers. On Sunday, they pass by Yatta again going toward Israel to work.
We observed the following military operations: training is held every week from Sunday to Thursday on land beyond the Green Line. But some times they push on toward Jenba.
Tuesday 17. Sporadic shooting from light firearms both in the morning and in the afternoon. Soldiers patrolling the area in small groups.
11:50 a.m.: two Black Hawk helicopters fly over Jenba and land on the right side of the village on land that the people use for cultivation (but not in August). A helicopter, before landing, shoots twice but it’s only light and smoke and nothing else. The helicopters stay on the ground only five minutes and then leave. This fact happened close to the village, on land called “Iunis”, therefore on this side of the Green Line.
12.:20 p.m.: the helicopters return but in the distance toward Halue and go quickly away.
Shooting during the morning.
Observed settlers action and our actions in Jenba.
Sunday, August 15, while we are on the fields at 9:30 in the morning, on the ruins of Bir el’Id, a settler brings his goats at an old well of the destroyed village. He sees us but does not react. The Palestinian shepherds are surprised because usually they are attacked and chased away from there by settlers.
In “Jacob’s” outpost, no one is sight, only an occasional soldier standing guard. The shepherds say that this is most unusual because usually there are many people hanging around this area. In another outpost there is a bus and a truck parked there. They appear abandoned.
Monday, August 16. Both morning and afternoon we are with shepherds at Bir el’Id. No one in sight. Neither settlers nor soldiers. A Jenba shepherd goes to the Bir el’Id well, where the day before we had seen the settler.
The bucket is gone….He decides to come back the next day with a bucket.
Tuesday, August 18. With the shepherds both morning and afternoon. In the afternoon, we see a Hammer going by on the street above us in the village of Bir el’Id. The soldiers, however, do not see us. Everything normal. At the bigger outpost on the hill we notice two cars and nothing else. The bus is still where it was the day before. The truck, however, is gone. In its place there is a car.
Wednesday, August 19. While with the shepherds, we see one person at Jacob’s outpost. Then we see some soldiers, who climb aboard the Hammer and move on the street that connects with the next outpost. Half way to their destination, they see us because we are on the hill facing them. They turn around and seem to head toward us. They stop for five seconds and then continue on their way. It is clear that they did see us. The shepherds are very much surprised because usually the soldiers get off the Hammer to chase them away.