Trees in Burin village (archive)
Photo: AFP
Settlers reject Palestinian accusations of tree sabotage
Farmers from Burin village near settlement of Yitzhar claim 40 trees were cut down. Yitzhar spokesman dismisses allegations noting initial Palestinian report was of 100 trees
Palestinian farmers from the Burin village near the settlement of Yitzhar in the West Bank claimed Tuesday that settlers destroyed 40 olive trees in their plots. They also said that settlers attacked a house inhabited by Palestinians near the settlement. Yitzhar representatives are denying the allegations.


Muhammad Ziban, a resident of the village, told Ynet that this is not the first time settlers from Yitzhar tried to cause damage to their plots. He noted that Israeli District Coordination Office representatives as well as soldiers arrived at the village but did not take any measures against the settlers.


Yitzhar spokesman Yigal Amitai responded to the allegations and said, "As usual, this is a libel. In the morning the Palestinians reported of 100 cut-down trees and now the number dropped to 40."


Village residents expressed pessimism at the likelihood that the sabotage will be dealt with and mentioned that only last week Yitzhar settlers clashed with IDF soldiers and were not disciplined for it.


A source at the Rabbis for Human Rights organization said, "This vandalism joins hundreds of sabotage cases against Palestinian property in the last month."


The organization fears an escalation in settler violence ahead of Purim and has called on the IDF to fulfill its duty of protecting the Palestinians and their property.


The last occurrence in which olive trees were cut down in Burin was last November. A local farmer said he discovered 97 destroyed olive trees in his plot.


No comment was received from the IDF.


Efrat Weiss contributed to this report


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