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From the field

Testimony: Settler shoots shepherd near the Shademot Mehola settlement, seriously wounding him, September 2007

Saleh Daraghmeh, shepherd

Saleh Daraghmeh

Since I was a child, I have been wandering from place to place in the Jordan Valley with my sheep and cattle, looking for grazing land. For the past four months, I have stayed in the ‘Ein al-Beida area. Every day, I graze my flock. Since we arrived in the area, settlers from Shademot Mehola have been chasing us on the grazing land. Two weeks ago, for example, settlers assaulted my son, ‘Abd el-Karim, 11, while he was out with the flock. They put a knife to his throat and frightened him.

Two days ago [24 September 2007], I was grazing my flock about two kilometers north of the settlement. My sister's sons, Muhammad Fawzi ‘Abu Mutawe'a, 21, and Jamal, 18, were grazing their cows near me. Muhammad tied his horse to a tree and sat on the ground and Jamal tended the cows. Around 2:00 P.M., I saw a white car heading toward the settlement. It stopped next to a leafy tree, on the side of a dirt road that runs around the settlement. A few minutes later, I saw two men come toward us from the direction of the settlement. I think they had been in the white car.

They ran toward the cows, which were about 200 meters from the external fence of the settlement, and threw stones at them. Jamal went over and asked why they were throwing stones at the cows. I shouted to Jamal to come back and let them stone the cows. I thought that if they came over to us, we could reach an understanding. When Jamal started to come back, the two settlers chased him. He ran and then one of them fired his pistol at Jamal's legs. The settler who fired had a beard and skullcap, and had a dark-brown complexion. He was about 25 years old.

Jamal was startled and continued to run. I went over to the settlers, until I was five meters from them. Muhammad managed to get on the horse and was about 20/>
, 30 meters from me. I spoke with one of the settlers in Hebrew and explained that I wanted to come to an understanding. I asked him what Jamal had done and why he had fired.

The settlers passed by me. One of them was holding a pistol. Muhammad asked him what we had done, and then the settler shot him. I saw Muhammad fall slowly from the horse onto his back. I shouted at the settler. I asked him what he wanted, and why he had killed Muhammad. He replied that he hadn't killed him and that I was lying.

He went over to Muhammad, kicked him, and told him to get up. Muhammad didn't move. The settler turned him over and saw the blood, and immediately both settlers started running towards the settlement. I shouted to him and asked him to come back and help Muhammad. I said that I know who he is, but they got into the car and drove off.

I shouted to Jamal to return. I checked Muhammad's pulse and saw lots of blood on his shoulder. I tore a piece off his clothes and wrapped it tightly above the wound to stop the bleeding. I tried to give him first aid and poured water on him. Muhammad asked me if he was going to die, and I calmed him.

I asked Jamal to ride the horse home and get my cell phone. When he arrived with the phone, I called an ambulance from Tubas. I also called my brother-in-law in ‘Ein al-Beida, Hamad, and asked him to tell the people that Muhammad had been seriously wounded and was near the settlement. Hamad called a man named Jamal, who works at the settlement. Jamal and his employer, Meir, contacted the army and called an Israeli ambulance. Jamal and Meir arrived and a Hummer jeep with a stretcher pulled up. We put Muhammad on the stretcher and into Meir's car, and he drove him to the road. Then an army ambulance arrived and took him to Rambam Hospital, in Haifa.

Policemen and more soldiers  came to the scene and the policemen investigated the incident. They took Muhammad's torn clothes and found the shells of the bullets that the settler had fired. Yesterday, I received a summons to go to the Efraim police station and I went and gave my testimony.

Although I was close to the settler who shot Muhammad, I don't remember what he looked like. I know the other settler well. His name is Yehuda and he is 14-15 years old. I think he is the son of one of the heads of the settlement.

Saleh Mustafa Muhammad Daraghmeh, 42, married with eight children, is a shepherd and a resident of 'Ein al-Beida inTubas District. His testimony was given to 'Atef Abu a-Rub on 26 September 2007 in 'Ein al-Beida.