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The Herders' Boy

Squinting his eye against the popping sun in the east, he looks younger than his thirteen years of age. Perhaps because of his modest expression, deprived from great expectations.

Don't ask for his name or his whereabouts. The goats and sheep behind him, in the stone scattered desert, tell all there is to know.

The rest, the improbable, will be told by his molded arm.

It happened on Tuesday. The boy was herding his livestock in the Wadi. A Jewish settler, known among the locals for his wickedness, found him there unguarded. He hit him on his head and broke his arm. Wounded, the boy climbed up back to his home. He was then taken to the hospital for treatment.

Photo: Oded Paporisch

On the morning after he was already back herding. In this small Palestinian village, when you are thirteen years old you do not sleep late. From a young age you are expected to participate in the communal effort to provide. Back from the morning round, the boy went into the village classroom. Herding, schooling, and playing outside. This is the boy's daily routine. And always lurking nearby the dark shadow of the Jewish settler.

The boy's mother is anxiously waiting for him to come back from the grazing grounds. Like pride, satisfaction or gentleness, the unease feeling is part of her constant emotion routine. Alongside the desperate, helpless feelings of a mother who cannot protect her child, it is fastened like a rope around her neck.

Photo: Oded Paporisch

Yesterday the settler came riding his tractor, on a Muslim holiday, and tossed a cardboard box in front of one of the sheds of this small pasture community and started to drive away. From the shed came out a boy. Approaching the box, he saw in it the carcass of one of the community's dogs that the settler slaughtered. With braveness reserved for the hopeless, the boy attempted to clear the box out of the shed's entrance. The settler returned and slapped the boy on his face. The box with the dog's carcass in it remained in its place.

There is no measure for the evil that is so common and widespread in the occupied territories. No human emotion can contain it. It is the kind of evil we only heard of in tales from far away and long ago. Yet it is here and now.

Dedicated with great admiration to H. G.

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