Negev rancher Shai Dromi, jailed after he shot Bedouin thieves on his property last January, took the witness stand Tuesday in a Be’er Sheva court.

Ezra HaLevi,

Shai Dromi near his Negev ranch
Shai Dromi near his Negev ranch
(Photo: Shai-Dromi.org.il)

Negev rancher Shai Dromi, jailed after he shot Bedouin thieves on his property last January and still barred from his own farm since the incident, took the witness stand Tuesday in a Be’er Sheva court.

“I awoke at 3 AM to the barking of the guard dog I got after my dogs were poisoned,” Dromi said. “Even though I was incredibly tired, I got out of bed and walked around the house. After I went back to bed, I again heard the dog barking irregularly. I went out with my weapon and didn’t see anything. I kept walking around [the perimeter of my] sheep pen, and noticed large metal wire-cutters. I panicked. I realized there were men around me.”

Dromi said he was so frightened that his bladder failed him. “I heard a crash from the direction of the sheep pen. I saw four men in front of me all of the sudden. I called out to them and tried to shoot in the air, but my gun did not fire. They yelled something at me – I didn’t understand what. I felt them closing in on me. I tried to see what was wrong with my weapon and then the bullet was fired.”

The rancher said he feared for his life and the lives of his family and the volunteers working on his ranch. “One of the four was holding a large knife or pruning shears over his head,” Dromi said. “After the first shot, I fired five more shots at the lower parts of their bodies. My life was in danger and I shot in order to chase them away.”

The prosecution is trying to prove that the thieves were shot in the back, while they were already fleeing the ranch.
Dromi was kept in prison for a month immediately following the incident. Local Negev farmers and ranchers began a grassroots protest on his behalf, saying the government and police have stood aside as Bedouin mafias run racketeering and larceny rings throughout the Negev (click here for an Arutz-7 feature story on the protest movement and here for an account of the circumstances facing Negev farmer on a web site of his supporters).

Dromi was finally released following the overruling of prosecution allegations that he was a danger to the public, but a restraining order has kept him away from his ranch (click here for an Arutz-7 photo feature on the Dromi ranch until the end of proceedings against him.

The Minister of Negev and Galilee Development, Shimon Peres, was elected President by Israel’s Knesset Wednesday.

The next court session is scheduled for June 26 at the Be'er Sheva court.





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