Nablus, ALRAY - Israeli settlers chopped down more than 8000 olive trees in the West Bank during 2013 , Nablus is the most affected area, al- Tadamun Human Right reported.
Al-Tadamun tracked the Israeli settlers attacks against Palestinians olive trees in the West Bank , and explained that they followed several ways to destroy the olive crop; they burned, uprooted , chopped down , pumped swage water at the olive trees and recently they used chemical materials to burn the trees.
The settlers' attacks vary between the uprooting of olive trees and the theft of the crop to physical attacks on the farmers and preventing them from reaching their land.
The mayors of the Nablus villages said that the settlers of "Yitzhar" and "Bracha" colonial settlements used petrochemicals in burning 1500 olive trees in last June. The fire destroyed more than 200 dunums of land owned by the people of Burin and Asira villages. The losses estimated to more than a million dollars.
The foundation tracked 24 incidents of settlers' vandalism against Palestinians olive trees , in which 5289 olive trees were destroyed just in Nablus, 1125 in Bethlehem, 600 in Hebron, 350 in Jerusalem and 150 in Ramallah.
According to the documents the Israeli attacks were concentrated on the countryside of Nablus, specifically in the villages of Awarta , Qasra , Urif , Burin , Asira and Hawara villages, which are exposed to daily attacks as they are adjunct to the illegal Israeli settlements which the Israeli army provides protection for.
The foundation reported that the Israeli settlers usually launched their attacks in the first week of olive harvest ; such attacks deny Palestinians safe access to their lands and deprive them of a key source of annual income. In the last olive season , Israeli settlers chopped down more than 2000 olive trees. Local witnesses said that the settlers used chainsaws to cut the trees at the base in the midnight , " the farmers were shocked by the sight of the felled trees, which they had been nourishing for years," they explained.
Yasser Faqha , 54, from Dier Sharaf in Nablus recalled that on the morning of 2 October, while he was at a local gas station, a worker there told him that he had seen settlers stepping out of buses and wandering around the Faqha family’s land. Despite the worker’s warning, Yasser did not anticipate that the settlers would attack his land and did not go to check on it. However, on 5 October, when Yasser, his wife and children headed towards their land for the olive harvest, Yasser’s wife saw that some olive trees had been destroyed and some of the olives stolen. Yasser asserted that a number of his trees were fruitless and many had broken branches. According to Yasser, a total of 40 olive trees were damaged in the attacks. Yasser depend s on these olive trees to provide an annual income to support his family. Each year the trees produce 20 tanks (approximately 360 kilograms) of olive oil that Yasser sells for revenue. (Al-Haq Affidavit 9052/2013)
The settlers did not only destroyed the fruit and perennials trees but they also uproot the seedlings. It is reported that more than 1400 seedlings were uprooted in the West Bank . In Jerusalem 350 seedlings were flooded with swage water and more than 300 seedlings were destroyed in Qalqilya.
The daily attacks of the settlers during the olive harvest are an integral part of the Israeli overall policy of occupation, ethnic cleansing and land theft. The kind of attacks, the locations where they are carried out and the coordination between the settlers and the Israeli military are demonstrating the existence of a systematic policy.
The attacks aimed to drive Palestinian farmers from geo-strategic locations in Area C, in order to ensure that the occupied West Bank is effectively fragmented into unviable Bantustans and Israel can ensure full control not only of the natural resources but as well the movement.
There is a strong psychological impact to the vandalism against Palestinian olive trees, since these symbolize the attachment of Palestinians to their land. Palestinians are descended from the ancient Canaanites and have been farming that land for millennia.