Palestinians Plant Olive Trees in Hebron in “Message of Persistence”

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Published Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Dozens of Palestinians took part in planting olive tree saplings in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood in the occupied West Bank district of Hebron on Tuesday, local activists said.

Badie Dweik told Ma'an news agency that the activity was a "message of Palestinian persistence and that we will keep resisting for our freedom and independence.”

“We are here despite the area having been declared as a closed military zone by the Israeli army," he added.

Muhannad al-Jabari, a student from al-Quds University, said dozens of Israeli soldiers tried to prevent the activists from reaching the area.

Last month, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) uprooted with bulldozers dozens of olive trees in the northern occupied West Bank village of Tayasir, while Israeli settlers cut down over 70 olive trees belonging to Palestinians in 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.

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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