One of the uprooted seedlings

Palestinians say settlers uprooted 200 olive trees

West Bank villagers claim residents of neighboring outpost uprooted some 200 of their olive trees during the night; settlers reject accusation

Palestinian residents of the West Bank village of Jit claimed Sunday that settlers living in the neighboring Havat Gilad outpost have uprooted some 200 olive seedlings belonging to villagers during the night.


A Havat Gilad resident rejected the accusation, calling it a lie.


Rabbi Arik Asherman of the Rabbis for Human Rights organization, which helped the Palestinians plant the trees, told Ynet that the IDF forces stationed in the region should increase the monitoring of the settlers, whom he claimed were behind a similar act of vandalism two weeks ago.


The area where the trees have been uprooted


"In June 2006, the High Court ruled that the army must allow the village farmers to access their land and that the IDF must protect the trees," Asherman added. "While the access issue has indeed improved, the subject of protecting the trees has not."


The settlers' vandalism, said Asherman, caused serious damages to the Palestinians' crops. "We understand that the army cannot protect each and every tree, but something must be done to prevent this from recurring."


The villagers have already filed a complaint with the IDF, but Asherman said that the army representatives who arrived at the scene Sunday did very little. "I doubt that they're going to conduct a serious investigation. I mainly noticed inaptitude and callousness," he stated.


Itay Zer, a resident of Havat Gilad, strongly rejected the allegations against him and his fellow settlers. "This is another one of the lies being spread about the residents of the hills, whose only desire is to humbly and plainly inhabit the land of Israel."


The Civil Administration confirmed to Ynet that the Palestinians filed a report about the uprooting of 160 olive seedlings. The regional police have also confirmed receiving a complaint on the matter, adding that an investigation has already been launched.


Efrat Weiss contributed to the report


פרסום ראשון: 02.03.08, 19:37
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