PNN : Israeli Settlers have recently stepped up their attacks against olive harvesters in the west bank

Bethlehem /PNN/

Israeli Extremist settlers have carried out daily attacks in the West Bank in recent days, including attacks on Palestinian farmers who go to pick olives and cut down trees, in addition to stealing olives.

Palestinian human rights and official sources have recorded in recent days a rise in attacks carried out by settlers during the olive harvest season, especially in the absence of international monitoring and campaigns to protect Palestinian farmers and their trees, as it was every year.

In addition to the absence of international protection campaigns and foreign activists, the Israeli occupation soldiers protect settlers when carrying out attacks on Palestinian farmers, as they are not arrested or even prevented from attacking. At the same time, the Israeli occupation soldiers arrest Palestinians if they try to defend themselves

For example Israeli xxtremist settlers today evening uprooted dozens of olive trees belonging to a Palestinian resident in Masafer Yatta area, south of Hebron, according to a local official.

Coordinator for the Anti-Wall and Settlement Committee Rateb al-Jabour said settlers from the illegal Israeli settlements of Maon and Havat Ma’on uprooted around 70 olive trees belonging to local resident Hafeth al-Harini.

He said settlers harass Palestinian residents, farmers, and shepherds in the area almost on daily basis to force them to leave the area for the benefit of settlement expansion.

Settler violence against Palestinians and their property is routine in the West Bank and is rarely prosecuted by Israeli authorities.

In another attack Israeli settlers today stole the olive harvest and uprooted hundreds of saplings of Palestinian farmers in Sebastia town, northwest of Nablus, according to local sources.

Mayor of Sebastia, Mohammad Azem, said that on his first day of picking their olives fenced within the boundaries of the Israeli colonial settlement of Shavi Shomron, Majd Shehadeh, a local farmer, was surprised to find out his 18 dunums of land planted with olive trees were already harvested and stolen by settlers in the morning hours.

He added that the settlers uprooted some 700 apricot saplings and 200 olive saplings from Palestinian farmlands adjacent to the same settlement and prevented the land owners from accessing their orchards.

The assailants also fenced a number of plot of land there as a prelude to seize and annex them to the encroaching settlement.

Settlers have recently stepped up their attacks against olive harvesters in the southern district of Nablus, attacking farmers of Burin town and preventing them from picking their olives. Similar attacks recently occurred in other Nablus-district villages and towns, including Aqraba and Deir al-Hatab.

With more than 12 million olive trees planted across 45% of the West Bank’s agricultural land, the olive harvest constitutes one of the biggest sources of economic sustainability for thousands of Palestinian families.

According to UN OCHA, the olive oil industry supports the livelihoods of more than 100,000 families and accounts for a quarter of the gross agricultural income of the occupied territories.

But, as local NGO MIFTAH notes, “olive trees carry more than an economic significance in the lives of Palestinians. They are not just like any other trees, they are symbolic of Palestinians’ attachment to their land.”

“Because the trees are drought-resistant and grow under poor soil conditions, they represent Palestinian resistance and resilience. The fact that olive trees live and bear fruit for thousands of years is parallel to Palestinian history and continuity on the land.”

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