Daily Israel Report

Watchdog Group Looks Into State Land for Arab Shepherds

The government watchdog group Ometz asks why state land is being distributed among Arab villages.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 5/16/2010, 6:53 PM / Last Update: 5/16/2010, 6:59 PM

Flash 90

The government watchdog group Ometz believes the state is wrong to turn over lands owned by the Jewish National Fund to Arab farmers in the Galilee. The group has filed a request with State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss asking him to look into the matter.

The complaint centers around lands near Mount Tur'an, which were recently distributed among surrounding Arab villages. According to Ometz the land distribution ignored the expressed wish of the JNF to begin a forestry project on the land.

The matter was first publicized when local Jewish shepherd Motti Peretz spoke to Arutz Sheva's Hebrew news service several weeks ago. Peretz said the state advertised lands for use by shepherds, but published the ads only in Arabic, and only in Arab communities. “Someone is trying to send a friendly message to the Arab sector,” he said.

Peretz told Arutz Sheva that he has frequently been targeted for attack by local Arabs, who apparently hope to drive him away. Attackers have caused over 450,000 shekels worth of damage to his supplies, poisoned his flocks, and even tried to kill him, he said.

If the state does not do more to encourage Jewish farmers and shepherds, “we are likely to wake up one day and discover that while we hold tight to our borders, we've lost the land inside the country,” he said.