Farmers, shepherds and political leaders from Judea and Samaria (Shomron) came together this weekend to give thanks to Hashomer Yosh, a civilian guard group which for the past year has made it its aim to defend Israeli farms in the region from attack. Among those present were MKs Orit Struk and Zevulun Kalfa of the Jewish Home party.
Jewish farmers in the region have been suffering from frequent theft at the hands of Palestinian Authority criminals, who take the animals they steal to PA-controlled towns, leaving Israeli law enforcement unable to intervene.
Theft is not the only fear, farmer Yissaschar Man of Maon noted. “The people stealing in Judea and Samaria are doing so for ideological reasons,” he said.
The fact that the thefts are motivated by hatred of Israeli “settlers” and not only financial gain makes them particularly dangerous, he explained. “A case of theft could easily turn into murder of the farm owner,” he warned.
A group of Palestinian Arab men who recently murdered an Israeli man in his home in the Jordan Valley told investigators that they had originally planned to rob the house, but when they saw that the homeowner was a retired IDF officer, they changed their plans to murder.
Yair Ben-David, a farmer who is among the directors of Hashomer Yosh, told Arutz Sheva that the defense group currently assists six out of 60 farms in Judea and Samaria. Even that is significant, he said.
“You have to understand that the theft of [just] a few sheep means a loss of thousands of shekels,” he explained. “And there is no doubt that Hashomer Yosh prevents dozens if not hundreds of thefts each year.”
“In recent years there have been more and more thefts of livestock from farms in Judea and Samaria. This phenomenon must be stopped,” he continued.
“The next theft will end in murder, and unfortunately, the state isn’t doing enough,” he added.
Hashomer Yosh is open to new volunteers, Ben-David noted.
Similar Hashomer movements exist in the Negev and Galilee.