The past two weeks have seen a sharp rise in thefts of cattle and sheep from farms in south Israel ahead of the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha.
The Muslim holiday will be celebrated in late November. During Eid al-Adha - Arabic for "the Festival of the Sacrifice" - believers traditionally feast on lamb and beef.
A senior Border Guard officer told Ynet that the scope of cattle thefts by Palestinians this year is unprecedented. "We know that during the holiday they (Muslims) eat as much beef as possible, but it is not clear why cattle thefts are up compared to last year."
During a raid which took place Sunday on the Palestinian village of Idna, located in the South Mount Hebron area, IDF and Border Guard forces found two calves that had been stolen just two days earlier from Moshav Bitzaron.
Three other heads of cattle belonging to the moshav were apparently butchered or sold on the Palestinian market.
The owner of the farm at Bitzaron, Nissim Raiten, said, "These thefts severely harm our livelihood," adding that the Palestinian thieves
Tomer Zuler, head of Be'er Tuvia Regional Council's security committee, said, "We've had two years of relative calm, but now we are dealing with cattle thefts every night. The thieves have become more sophisticated. They throw metal objects at people who chase after them, and if they run out of those they can even throw a calf at you."
Zuler accuses Palestinians who are employed by the Israeli farms of "gathering intelligence" for the thieves.
Associated Press contributed to the report