PA police at olive harvest.
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Despite warnings by human rights organizations to the army about settler
vandalism against Palestinian olive orchards, there have been 35 incidents of
this sort between the beginning of September and mid-October, the organizations
charged in a letter to OC Central Command Maj.- Gen. Avi Mizrahi and the
commander of IDF forces in the West Bank, Brig.-Gen.Nitzan
Oxfam: PA and IDF could help olive farmers double crop'Palestinian olives stolen, groves vandalized'
“We demand that you take all necessary steps to guarantee that the
Palestinians in the West Bank receive full protection from damage to their
property, and particularly protection against olive theft and damage to olive
trees during the olive harvest,” wrote officials from B’Tselem – The Israeli
Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, Rabbis for
Human Rights, Yesh Din Volunteers for Human Rights and The Association for Civil
Rights in Israel.
The IDF had no immediate response to the
According to the letter, seven of the vandalism incidents took
place in two villages, Burin and Hawara, which border on Yitzhar.
were also several incidents in the villages of Turmus Aiya and El-Murain, near
the illegal outpost of Adei Ad and the villages of Farata, Tell, Amatin and
Yinon, near the Gilad Farm.
The worst of the 35 cases of vandalism
occurred on October 15 in the villages surrounding the Gilad
“Israeli citizens set fire to a large number of olive trees
belonging to villagers in Farata and Tell,” the letter stated.
Palestinian firefighting services and the orchard owners estimated that hundreds
of trees were damaged.”
Worse still, the human rights organizations
charged, “from reports about this incident it emerges that the fires were set in
the presence of IDF soldiers. The soldiers did not lift a finger to stop what
was happening, but prevented the firefighters from reaching the orchard to
extinguish the fire.
The soldiers chose to detain a number of
Palestinians who had rushed to the scene to try and save the
The organizations called for Mizrahi and Alon to maintain a
permanent force guarding the known flashpoints and bar access to these areas by
all but the owners of the orchards. In addition, the groups demanded that they
draft clear orders for every soldier and officer regarding law enforcement
authority and duties and that they press criminal procedures against anyone
suspected of vandalism.Group claims Arabs sawed trees in attempt to accuse settlers
Photographs showing Palestinians and leftwing activists cutting down Palestinian
olive trees using an electric saw were released on Saturday by a group claiming
the images were part of a campaign to accuse settlers of vandalism.
reported that the photos, taken on Friday near Neveh Tzuf, were made by Tazpit
Unit members, an organization identified with the settlers which documents news
events in the territories.
Tazpit photographer Ehud Amiton told Ynet that
the olive grove was located east of Beit Zayit, located near Route 60.
immediately saw that it was no ordinary pruning. It was done very
aggressively... Some of the branches broke, and other trees were cut off
entirely. When I approached closer with my camera, the Palestinian man waved his
saw at me threateningly. I felt uneasy, so I backed off,” Amiton
Tazpit unit director Amotz Eyal told Ynet that “during every olive
harvest season, just like this one, there are many cases of Arab farmers cutting
down olive branches and later blaming it on the settlers.
time, photos prove that these Arabs are not holding back; they provoke in order
to tarnish the image of Jewish settlers,” he said.