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Thursday, June 09, 2005


The Little One and Loss

By Kristin Anderson
June 8, 2005

With one hand cupping the little goat's neck, Hafez's other hand stroked
down the nose of Kristin - the week's newest baby goat. Together Hafez and
I took silent notice of the flat nose and white eyes, two characteristics
that determine market value of goats from At-Tuwani. Hafez commented on his
gratitude for this newborn of the highest quality, while both he and I held
a stooped position to consider what has been gained, and what has been lost.

A few days after the birth of Kristin, one of Hafez's most valuable goats
died. The loss of this goat, an adult male valued at 950JD (approx. $1,340)
is a huge blow to the livelihood of Hafez's family. Hafez took the goat to
a local veterinarian who unofficially confirmed that the cause of death was
linked to ingested poison that was deposited by Israeli settlers in
At-Tuwani grazing land over two months ago. Hafez took news of the loss
quietly back to his village, knowing that while his family would carry the
burden of the death, burial, and loss of another goat, those guilty of
poisoning and killing his and other area animals are not being pursued to
account for their criminal actions.

And so, the losses continue.

Hence, while both local and international media and respective governmental
entities that have jurisdiction in this Israeli military-controlled section
of Palestine taper their interest in the land, water, flocks, and people of
the At-Tuwani region, the land, water, flocks, and people remain in a state
of hardship and uncertainty. To this day, the Israeli authorities have
failed to remove all poison from the land. Animals, both adults and
newborns, continue to die at alarming rates. Shepherds have not been
compensated for lost animals. Residents have not been given written reports
of poison analyses done on the water and or products of potentially infected
animals. Families still lack milk to drink. Pregnant women have not been
tested and do not know if their unborn children have been affected by
poison. Shepherds are unable to sell lambs, milk, or cheese in near-by
markets because consumers do not want to purchase poisoned animals or animal

This backdrop of ongoing loss and uncertainty is felt while in the company
of the subsistence farmers of At-Tuwani and the surrounding villages. The
residents are asking, both rhetorically and broadly, how they will survive
in the coming months and into the next year.

From the pen where Hafez and I stood with newborn Kristin, our hands failed
to hold the count of losses. Even as two bright-eyes and four awkward legs
beckoned us to consider the grace of provision, our wearied bodies stood
charged with outrage, uncertain what survival would mean for a place and
people plagued with loss.

Just three days later, Kristin fell ill, and died.

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