Palestinian villager Ibrahaim Salah faced a rude welcome after arriving at his olive grove Tuesday, claiming that his trees were cut down by settlers.
"I arrived at my land Tuesday morning and couldn't believe my eyes," said the Samaria resident, who is allowed to access his grove only a few times a year with a security escort. "We found some 150 olive trees that are dozens of years old cut down."
Olive trees cut down (Photo: Ibrahim Salah)
Salah says that only 60 trees remain in his plot of land at this time, yet most of them are too young and do not produce commercial quantities of trees.
"I don't know what to do now. I have nothing except for these trees," he said. Salah added that a caravan belonging to the nearby Havat Gilad outpost was placed by his cut down trees.
"When we arrived, we saw the settlers standing on a hill far away and looking at us. When the police saw them, they decided that we cannot work the land, claiming there were insufficient forces to secure us," the Palestinian farmer said. "I intend to file a police complaint next week over what was done to me, but I don't have high expectations, because in all the previous times I complained about abuse, nothing was done."
Civil Administration officials confirmed the details of the story and said they photographed the cut down trees and informed the farmer about his right to file a police complaint.
However, one of the founders of Havat Gilad, Itay Zar, said the plot of land is part of a disputed area.
"These are trees we've been working in the past 10 years, and only recently a Palestinian who is unwilling to tell us his name claimed the area belongs to him," Zar said. "There are some 20-30 trees in the grove, certainly not 150. Besides, the trees were trimmed, not uprooted, and we didn't do it."
"There are laws in this country, and it can't be that a nameless Palestinian suddenly arrives and claims that land I've been working for years and trees I've been growing belong to him," Zar said.
Yair Altman contributed to the story
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