Israeli Forces Uproot Olive Trees in West Bank

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Seventy-year old Palestinian farmer Abbas Youssef points towards his olive trees, which are bearing their annual fruit, on land either side of an Israeli settlement in the northern occupied West Bank, in the village of al-Janiya west of Ramallah on October 28, 2014. AFP/Abbas Momani

Published Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) uprooted with bulldozers dozens of olive trees in the northern occupied West Bank village of Tayasir on Tuesday, locals said.

Several Israeli military vehicles and bulldozers, accompanied by officers of the Israeli ministry of environmental protection, stormed the village in the early morning hours and uprooted olive trees on Palestinian land.

Adnan Daraghmah, the owner of the land, was notified by the Israelis that the area was a “military zone” and that he couldn't plant or build on the land without “obtaining permission.”

Earlier in February, Israeli settlers cut down over 70 olive trees belonging to Palestinians in the occupied West Bank district of Hebron.

The uprooting of olive trees come after an annual Palestinian campaign to plant one million trees on land facing annexation in the occupied West Bank kicked off in Hebron.

The initiative intends to help farmers maintain ownership of agricultural land threatened by Israeli annexation and replant tree seedlings on damaged land.

Israeli settlers and military forces regularly burn and uproot hundreds of thousands of olive trees, which are highly symbolic for the Palestinian community.

The attacks on olive trees are also a way to force Palestinians out of their homes and lands for illegal settlement construction projects, as the loss of a year's crop can signal destitution for many.

According to Ma’an, the olive industry supports the livelihoods of roughly 80,000 families in the occupied West Bank.

In order to build its apartheid wall and infrastructure for Zionist-only settle­ments, Israeli bulldozers plowed down more than 800,000 olive trees in the West Bank since 1967, the equivalent of bulldozing all of New York City's Central Park 33 times.

In January, Zionist settlers uprooted more than 5,000 olive tree saplings in agricultural lands east of the town of Turmusayya in the Ramallah district.

The settlers uprooted the trees in a way that makes it impossible for Palestinian farmers to plant the trees again in the future, locals said at the time, accusing the Zionists of pressuring Palestinians out of their lands.

Jamil al-Barghouthi, president of the Resistance Committee against the Wall and the Settlements, told Ma'an news agency that the "barbaric act" occurred under the cover and protection of the Israeli Occupation Forces and that settlers frequently attack Palestinian farmers in a bid to force them out of their own land and seize it for illegal settlement building projects.

In October, when the 2014 olive harvest began, a group of Zionist settlers set fire to around 100 olive trees owned by Palestinian farmers near Nablus in the northern West Bank.

The roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict date back to 1917, when the British government, in the now-infamous Balfour Declaration, called for "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."

Israel then occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Zionist state — a move never recognized by the international community.

(Ma’an, Al-Akhbar)

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