Some 150 trees were cut down Monday morning in an agricultural field near the settlement of Barkan in the northern West Bank.
The owner of the land, Yitzhak Shemesh, accused Palestinians from the nearby village of Brukin of stealing the trees. "Despite their efforts, we'll continue to build and grow fruit in the Land of Israel," he said after filing a complaint with Shomron Sub-District Police.
The older avocado, olive and almond trees that could not be uprooted were severely damaged.
Yitzhak Shemesh assesses damage (Photo courtesy of Shomron Regional Council)
Police launched an investigation into the incident.
Shemesh estimated the damage at tens of thousands of shekels. "I was shocked to see my life's work completely ruined," he told Ynet. "The trees I had planted and cultivated for years are uprooted and crushed.
"Even more than the loss of money, we are hurt by the sheer barbarism and cruelty of those who are capable of doing something like this," he added.
Thieves have entered Shemesh's grove twice before. "I don't think they'll be caught, because this is not high on the police's list of priorities," he told Ynet.
Shomron Regional Council head Gershon Mesika said Monday's incident was the 30th since the harvest season began. He said anarchists and foreign activists are encouraging the Palestinians to act against the settlers.
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