Settlers Set Fire to Olive Trees West of Bethlehem

BETHLEHEM, July 12, 2015 (WAFA) – Israeli settlers Sunday set fire to dozens of olive trees belonging to a Palestinian resident in the village of Nahalin to the west of Bethlehem, according to witnesses.

They informed WAFA that the olive trees planted in a land adjacent to the illegal Israeli settlement of Bet Ayn, were set ablaze in an apparent settlers’ attack.

The land belongs to local resident Abd al-Mutalib Fnoon.

To be noted, this was the second settlers’ attack against Fnoon’s land; a while ago settlers chopped down the olive trees.

According to a United Nation’s Protection of Civilians weekly report covering the period between 23-29 of June 2015, “Five Israeli settler attacks resulting in injury or damage to Palestinians and their property were recorded, including the physical assault of two Palestinians in East Jerusalem and Hebron; arson of 20 dunums of land near At Tayba village (Ramallah); and damage to a vehicle as a result of stone-throwing near Majdal Bani Fadil (Jericho).  “

The vandalizing of 35 olive trees between Yassuf area, in Salfit, and Jamma’in area, in Nablus, were also recorded by OCHA in a previous weekly report.

Meanwhile, an OCHA monthly report issued on February 2015 revealed that, “During January, Israeli settlers reportedly uprooted or vandalized around 5,600 trees in seven incidents across the West Bank. This number is almost 60 percent of all trees uprooted or vandalized in the whole of 2014.”

To be noted, “The olive oil industry constitutes 25 percent of the agricultural income of the oPt and estimates suggest that about 100,000 families depend to some extent on the annual olive harvest for their livelihoods,” stated OCHA.

According to the Israeli NGO Yesh Din, “Over 96 percent of complaints filed with the Israeli police in the past six years and followed by the organization regarding deliberate damage to trees by settlers, were closed without an indictment.’

Al-Haq human right organization stated that, “Attacks by Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank against members of the Palestinian population and their property are an extensive, long-term, and worsening phenomenon.”

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.

Al-Haq said that, “The illegal Israeli settlement policy of transferring Israeli civilians into occupied territory is directly responsible for creating a hostile environment that puts civilians, both Israeli and Palestinian, in harm’s way.”