Settlers Cut Down Palestinian-Owned Trees near Hebron

HEBRON, January 31, 2015 (WAFA) – Israeli settlers Saturday cut down Palestinian-owned olive and almond trees in al-Hamra area of Yatta, south of Hebron, according to a local activist.

The Popular Committee Coordinator in Yatta, Rateb al-Jabour, told WAFA that settlers from the settlement of Ma’on, built illegally on Yatta land, stormed Palestinian-owned land and cut down almond and years-old olive trees belonging to Taysir and Yasir Rabe’e.

“Since 1967, Israel has established about 150 settlements (residential and others) in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem; in addition to some 100 “outposts” erected by settlers without official authorization. Three new settlements were approved in 2012 by retroactively ‘authorizing’ such outposts,” said a United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) report.

Settlements are illegal under international law as they violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the transfer of the occupying power’s civilian population into occupied territory.

“The failure to respect international law, along with the lack of adequate law enforcement vis-à- vis settler violence and takeover of land has led to a state of impunity, which encourages further violence and undermines the physical security and livelihoods of Palestinians,” said OCHA.

OCHA Protection of civilian weekly  report, covering the period between 30 December 2014 – 12 January 2015, said that, ”Israeli settlers reportedly uprooted or vandalized a total of 5,554 trees and saplings in four separate incidents.”

It said that “on 8 January 2014, around 580 olive and almond trees were cut down by settlers near the villages of Qwawis and Ma’in (Hebron) affecting ten families.”