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December 24, 2012 8:48 pm

Jewish Owned Herd Stolen by Arabs, Recovered by Owners

avatar by Aryeh Savir / Tazpit News Agency

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The herd returning to the pen through the breech in the security fence. Photo: Gideon Piko/ Tazpit News Agency.

Five individuals broke into a sheep pen at Sde Bar in Gush Etzion,Israel last week, cutting through the surrounding security fence and stealing 250 head of sheep, all of them pregnant. During the brake-in, the thieves used meat laced with sedatives to subdue the guard dogs. As a result, 15 of them were harmed.

At about 3 AM one of the farmers was awoken by the racket generated by the watch dogs, and after discovering the missing livestock immediately alerted the IDF. An IDF tracker identified tracks leading to the Arab village of Za’atra, but subsequent  pursuit proved fruitless.

Information received by one of the farmers led them to believe that the sheep were still in the area. After the IDF failed in their search, the farmers decided to attempt to recover the herd on their own. They were able to track the sheep down to a cave near Bethlehem. The herd was found in dire condition after having not been properly tended to by the thieves.

A police spokesman for the Judea and Samaria Region told Tazpit News Agency that an investigation has been launched into the incident and as of now the details are confidential. The IDF declined to comment on the incident.

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This incident is one of many attacks executed by Arabs against Jewish agriculture and farming targets in Judea and Samaria. In the beginning of November, Tazpit News Agency reported that a herd of some 400 goats was stolen from Avraham Hertzlich, a farmer from Benyamin. His financial loss was estimated at 200,000 NIS (roughly $53,000). Erez Ben Sa’adon’s olive grove, situated near Shiloh, was vandalized at around the same time. Many of his trees were uprooted or cut down, and his irrigation system was damaged. About one month ago, 70 head of sheep were stolen from a pen in Sussia, and that was not the first time this pen was hit.

Farmers in Judea and Samaria speak of continued deliberate attacks by Arabs against Jewish farmers in an attempt to weaken their presence on the land. They explain that that these attacks are nationalistically motivated. Arabs do not target Arab agriculture, and focus solely on Jewish assets. Many Jewish farms are not profitable, but the owners remain residents with the understanding that they will thereby ensure that the land remains in Jewish hands. Avidan Ophir, a resident of Sussia who owns a herd, told Tazpit News Agency that he has no doubt that the motives behind these thefts and acts of vandalism are nationalistic. “The fact that the herd was stolen, and not a piece of machinery or a tractor, proves this. He who has a herd lives on the land, owns the land, and he who owns the land will win the battle for the land. This is our war.”

“The Arabs understand this as well,” he continued, “They are trying to take over land in the Israeli controlled C zone. They do that by bringing in shepherds with herds, who stake a presence.”

“This is a battle of control. We are working to win the war, but need much help. I call on anyone who can help us to do so,” he concludes.

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