Muarrajat, January 20, 2023. Text: David Shulman

‘Auja, May, 2022. Photograph: Margaret Olin

Umm Rashid, the most intrepid of the ‘Auja shepherdesses, has sold off most of her sheep and goats. I don’t have all the details; a close friend of hers sold her herd a few months earlier. I assume she couldn’t take any more of the ceaseless harassment, beatings, and threats from the settlers. But I don’t think this is the end of the story.

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December 2, 2022 Al-‘Auja. Text: David Shulman. Photographs: Margaret Olin and David Shulman

August, 2022

Just after dawn, the air still cold; Umm Rashid tells us on the phone that she plans to take the herd deeper into the hills, closer to the big settlement, where there’s more edible green on the ground. Good, we say, we’re with you. But it takes some time before we find each other in the open spaces of the desert. A second herd, Nawal’s, is just visible on the top of the ridge.

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Random Stopping: A Day in the South Hebron Hills: Umm Al-‘Ara’is, Sh’ab al-Butam, Ar-Rakiz

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Umm Al-‘Ara’is. We must see at least twenty soldiers. The first few are friendly. They say they’d been stationed in the territories for four months. When Zev asks them to describe their duties, one of them answers, “stopping people randomly from going to work.” This sets a pattern for the day.

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Photographic Empowerment. Umm Al-‘Ara’is, spring and summer, 2022

Remember Sa’id and his many children who accompany him every week to the fields? I hadn’t seen them for nearly three years, but I could recognize them at a distance from Jibrin’s pastures (if you can call a rocky patch with a few scrubby thorns a “pasture”) as they arrived for their weekly visit on the ridge far above us. Then they descended into the next wadi and disappeared.

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Slogging on: Dir Jarir, Turmus’ayya, May 24, 2022

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Everyday drudgery has its own kind of beauty, heartbreak and even suspense, especially when it comes to facing down the occupation. Today as we pass Taybeh’s quarry on the way to the lands of its neighbor Deir Jarir, darkness lifts almost enough to show us the dull glow of the earth we have come to protect.

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April 22, 2022. ‘Auja. Text: David Shulman

The hills of ‘Auja in January. Photograph: Margaret Olin

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Abu Isma‘il calls at 7 in the morning, in a panic. Four or five settlers are lined up to block the shepherds’ path to their grazing grounds. What to do? Still half-asleep, I make some phone calls and learn that two of our activists are on their way. I let Abu Isma‘il know. I can hear the relief in his voice. In the end he and the other herds take a long, roundabout way into the hills, and the sheep get to eat their fill. Enough for one day.

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