Evicted shepherds sue Civil Administration

Two shepherds who were evicted from Judea and Samaria say: We wanted to leave voluntarily but Civil Administration did not agree.

Yoni Kempinski,

Cattle and buildings evicted
Cattle and buildings evicted
Elhanan Albert

Two Israeli shepherds recently filed a civil lawsuit against the Civil Administration, which describes the evacuation of a herd and buildings without warning, while severely harming the cattle.

According to the lawsuit, the manner in which the cattle were loaded onto and transported on the evacuation truck resulted in the deaths of three of them and in abortions among many sheep that were pregnant at the time. The eviction which led to the filing of the lawsuit took place in 2015.

The plaintiffs are the owner of the herd, a resident of the community of Kochav Hashahar, and his partner. The two were grazing their flock, which constituted their sole source of livelihood, at Givat Habaladim, located near Kochav Hashahar. On the day in question, forces from the Civil Administration unexpectedly arrived at the site and began demolishing buildings and confiscating the herd. They presented an order from 1999, according to which the area was declared a "military firing zone". The lawsuit alleges that the forces arrived without prior warning to the plaintiffs, and the owners of the herd asked the forces to allow them to evacuate voluntarily so that they could properly evacuate the herd and buildings, but were refused.

In order to transfer the cattle, the Civil Administration hired the services of an animal capture company, which brought a truck to the site onto which the sheep were loaded by the company employees. The plaintiffs claim that severe damage was caused to the herd, which was crammed into the truck.

The statement of defense describes the damage caused to the cattle as a result of this, along with the opinions of a veterinarian and an assessor. These damages include many sheep that were pregnant and had to have their fetuses aborted due to the overcrowding on the truck, as well as many other injuries caused to the cattle.

The lawsuit says that "the actions of the defendants caused a severe trauma to the herd, which drastically reduced the productivity and development of the sheep and also harmed the cattle.”

The shepherds also sued the Civil Administration over the demolition of their tents, which were defined as goods, and therefore required a seizure order for goods for the purpose of demolition, while the Civil Administration had an order defying the tents as "movable."

Attorney Haim Bleicher of the Honenu legal aid organization, representing the plaintiffs in the case, said, "In this case, beyond the illegality of the defendant's legal acts and offenses, there is also an inconceivable injustice – not only to the plaintiffs whose sole source of livelihood is the cattle but also to the animals themselves, in a disproportionate and cruel manner, despite the plaintiffs' request to leave voluntarily just so the flock is unharmed. The lawsuit points to a complete disregard for the law and further than that - it points to a deep moral failure on the part of the defendant."

The Civil Administration said in response: “In November of 2015, the Civil Administration carried out enforcement measures against buildings in the area following construction activities that constituted a flagrant violation of a closed military zone order. The enforcement actions were carried out after a violation of the order by the residents, despite the fact that they had been evacuated from the area several times in the past.”

“The State's response to the claim filed by the residents at the end of October 2017 will be handed down in court, as is customary.”