Do Unto Others focuses on the Middle East, (nonviolent) social movements, and how I make sense of my place in the world. I'm currently based in Cairo, Egypt doing peacebuilding and community development.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fear is a Powerful Tool of the Occupation (even against sheep)

Sheep in the South Hebron Hills often have to run from predators. Sheep usually run to avoid attack or death, or both. Predators often desire to injure and/or kill the sheep, but don't intend to eat the sheep. An odd predator indeed. The most common predators in the South Hebron Hills are Israeli settlers, soldiers, and police. These armed actors often target sheep by shooting rifles, throwing stones, kicking, or simply chasing the sheep. These actions are carried out as a means to instill fear into the Palestinian shepherds and also in order to harm the sheep, an economic staple for Palestinians in the area.

August 17 was a relatively calm day for Tuba shepherds (as opposed to Maghayir Al-Abeed shepherds who were chased in a car by settlers who then slung rocks at the Palestinian shepherds and their sheep, all within sight of the Tuba shepherds, video coming soon), without the presence of predators. The morning quiet was soon disrupted by a growing sound. As the sound grew to an overwhelming level, an Apache helicopter appeared over the hill. The sheep, fearing the approach of a predator, began to scatter, running away from the growling machine. The helicopter flashed across the skyline, floating alarmingly close to the hillsides. The shepherds reacted quickly, attempting to halt the charge of the sheep, calming their fears produced this false predator.

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The fear instilled in Palestinians is a powerful tool of the occupation. The fear is used to dissuade resisters from actively opposing the occupation. There is fear of fines, imprisonment, beatings, torture, and even death (a blog coming soon on this topic specifically).

Quite ironically, the fear extends to Palestinian sheep as well, who run away from Israeli military helicopters. The all-encompassing Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories uses fear as a powerful tool. It even affects the sheep.

(Yes, this is offered in jest, a bit. I thought it was funny that sheep scattered when they saw the Israeli military, 'twas ironic. But the whole thing about 'fear as a tool of the occupation' is serious, more to come on the topic.)