Hundreds of Palestinian olive trees vandalized by Israeli settlers


A Palestinian woman shows the damage of one of her old roman olive trees in the village of Qarut, that was allegedly set on fire by Israeli settlers from the neighbouring Jewish settlement of Eli, near the West Bank town of Nablus, on October 13, 2012.



More than 870 trees were vandalized in the first week of the harvest in the West Bank, according to a report by the United Nations.

The vandals behind the attacks are reportedly Israeli settlers.

“These acts are reprehensible and I call on the Government of Israel to bring those responsible to justice,” the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, said in a statement. “Israel must live up to its commitments under international law to protect Palestinians and their property in the occupied territory so that the olive harvest – a crucial component of Palestinian livelihoods and the Palestinian economy – can proceed unhindered and in peace."

The Guardian also noted that settlers may launching attacks under the protection of the Israeli military according to Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's executive committee.

Yesh Din, Israeli human rights group, says it has logged 35 attacks targeting olive trees, grapevines and other fruit trees between September 2011 and July 2012, according to the Middle East Monitor. The group also said that in 99 percent of cases the police have closed their investigations for lack of evidence.

In a statement the group said, "The police failure to enforce the law and protect Palestinian property encourages the criminals who go unpunished and are not deterred from repeating their actions."

But Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld combated these allegations, telling AFP that the report's results are "inaccurate and out of date", adding that "the police have stepped up activity, particularly over the past few weeks, in dealing with the incidents which have been taking place."

Since the beginning of this year, 7,180 Palestinian-owned trees have been vandalized by settlers, said the Guardian noting a memo from the UN's office for the co-ordination of humanitarian affairs. Last year about 10,000 trees were vandalized or uprooted.