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Hundreds of trees cut down Photo: Zecharia Sida
Hundreds of trees cut down Photo: Zecharia Sida
 
 

Rights group warns of growing settler violence

In letter to defense administration heads Yesh Din reports of alarming increase in number of attempts to uproot or damage Palestinian farmers' trees as part of settlers' efforts to 'achieve political goals through terrorists acts'

Efrat Weiss
Published: 06.10.09, 08:31 / Israel News

Palestinian farmers in the West Bank are paying the price for the government's efforts to evacuate illegal outpost in the region, data published by human rights group Yesh Din on Wednesday revealed.

 

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According to the organization, in recent weeks there has been an alarming rise in the number of attempts to uproot or damage trees in villages in the area, and the phenomenon is expected to expand if the security forces do not take action against the perpetrators.

 

In a letter sent to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Central Command Chief Gadi Shamni and Judea and Samaria District Police Commander Hagai Dotan, Yesh Din wrote that since the end of April and throughout the month of May, some 300 trees – mostly olive trees - have been uprooted or sawed in four West Bank villages. According to the group no one has been questioned in relation to the incidents.

 

"We ask that, in light of the increasing calls for violence and for collecting a 'price tag' from Palestinians following the evacuation of every outpost, you order the IDF and the police to boost their forces and work to prevent, handle and investigate offenses, and plans to commit offenses against civilians in the West Bank," the group's lawyer Michael Sfard wrote.

 

Sfard noted that in the last four years Yesh Din has repeatedly warned the law enforcement authorities in the West Bank of "systematic, organized and large-scale terrorist actions" taken by Jewish groups against Palestinian civilians in order to promote political objectives.

 

The Samaria Settlers Council said in response: "Yesh Din is an extreme leftist organization that bases its investigations on the claims of Arabs, without verifying them with the Jewish settlers.

 

"This is not a human rights organization, but a bunch of snitches, who work day and night in an effort to disgrace the Jews of the Land of Israel in the world and fuel anti-Semitism.

 

"Had they truly wanted to get the real picture of what is going on in Judea and Samaria, they should have asked Jewish farmers, who would have told them about Arab vandalism of Jewish property that is carried out on a daily basis."

 

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