Thursday, 17 February 2011 13:15
Violent storms, like those that pounded Israel on the night of December 12, present real issues for security personnel, especially those defending the Jewish communities throughout Judea and Samaria. Storms present a perfect cover for Arab theft and attacks on civilians.
Upon learning of one such incident, Marc Prowisor, director of security projects for the One Israel Fund, set out to assess the damage. This particular incident felt different than a standard theft.
The Har Sinai Farm is located in the town of Sussiya Southern Hebron Hills, approximately 20 minutes south of Hebron. On the night of December 12, all 170 sheep were stolen during the storms, 130 of them pregnant. Though hundreds of sheep were stolen that night throughout the region, the targeting of Dalia Har Sinai and her particular farm was nothing short of a terrorist attack.
The year was 1984, and Yair and Dalia Har Sinai moved to the town of Sussiya with their four children. Though today Sussiya boasts over 120 families, back then the Har Sinais were one of just ten families in the community. It was truly a pioneering spirit which drew Yair, Dalia, and their four children to these hills.
Yair had come from a kibbutz near Netanya and served in an elite unit in the IDF. After becoming religious, he wanted to work as a farmer and be close to the land of his forefathers.
Yair decided to become a shepherd, akin to our Avot. The local Arab shepherds grew to respect Yair and engaged him in their trade. Yair learned how to build a flock and by the end of that first year had purchased his first ten sheep from local Arabs. Always maintaining friendly and respectful relations with his Arab counterparts, Yair embarked on a mission and a career. Though small in the beginning, Yair’s flock grew to 80 head of sheep in a short time. It was then that he applied and received licenses for 800 dunams of land (approximately 200 acres). As Yair’s business and family (they had nine children) flourished, so did Sussiya. Yair eschewed violence and, as a matter of principle, refused to graze his herd while armed.
On July 2, 2001, Yair Har Sinai left his home to tend to his flock. He took them out to graze in the fields, and he never returned home. His body was found the next day; he had been shot in the head and chest by Arab terrorists who ambushed him. The sheep found their own way home in the evening.
Despite the hardships, and with G-d’s help, Dalia was determined to keep the family business open and till today the farm produced cheese, milk, wool, and meat. Dalia maintains the farm with the help of many volunteer youth and members of her family. The flock flourished over the years and, prior to December 12, numbered 170 head. She continued to apply for and obtain licenses for additional grazing lands, which today total 10,000 dunams (approximately 2,500 acres). Her main reason for working round the clock to keep the farm going is hityashvut—to maintain a presence in the South Hebron Hills that fills a very important purpose.
On the stormy night of December 12, Arab marauders entered the Har Sinai family’s property and stole the entire flock of sheep—taking with it the family’s livelihood and legacy.
“The footprints, and other signs that were found, indicate that the herd was led to a nearby Arab village,” says Dalia. But they will never be found. Theft of sheep is not uncommon, but the magnitude of this particular theft and the family that incurred the loss has made this a national tragedy.
Dalia is a unique individual. She expressed to Marc on his initial visit to assess the damages that for her “it has been like mourning for Yair again.” Yet, despite what she has gone through in her life, her voice is always full of optimism. She was the one who, at 6 a.m., discovered that the entire flock, valued at hundreds of thousands of shekels, had been stolen. She said she nearly had a heart attack.
According to Dalia, government assistance has provided the maximum of 70 percent of their losses. There is no insurance for sheep, since the insurance companies do not insure flocks in Judea and Samaria due to the frequent thefts. They have received another 20 to 30 sheep which were donated by local shepherds—both Jewish and Arab—and now have a flock of just over 100 sheep. But these are mostly babies and will take years to produce what has been lost.
Not only is this a demoralizing financial loss as well as emotionally devastating, but it is also a serious danger to the security and legitimization that the farm provided for the Southern Hebron Hills.
So important was this flock that the government even leased the land around the region to them. With this flock they traveled the hills and maintained a presence, providing a security buffer zone to the 8,000 dunams and the families living in the community of Sussiya.
Since the time of the theft, One Israel Fund has been one of the only organizations to respond and has already paid to rebuild and reinforce the pen used to house the herd. One Israel Fund has consulted and funded over 30 percent of the new security system surrounding the farm, including video surveillance cameras and strategically placed sensors. And it will continue to be monitored and upgraded so as to provide an even more efficient system which will provide additional protection, not just to the farm but also to the community and residents of Sussiya.
But in the battle to rebuild, there will be many obstacles to overcome.
As reported on January 27 on Arutz Sheva, “A group of Arabs, accompanied by anarchists, entered the Jewish community of the Mount Sinai Farm (Havat Har Sinai), next to Sussiya in the Hebron Hills Thursday afternoon. Residents of the farm went out to meet the intruders and demanded that they leave. Instead the intruders began to riot, throwing rocks at the residents.”
The rebuilding of this “farm” is a serious security interest and, even more so, will send a message of strength back to our enemies that we are here and will not be scared off by terror.
One Israel Fund will be coordinating the security measures with the family in order to rebuild this vital interest to the community of Sussiya and grant them the ability to live peacefully on our land.
To become a partner in this endeavor, please contact One Israel Fund at 516.239.9202 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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