In an attempt to clear the name of settlers living in West Bank communities blamed for the destruction of Palestinian olive trees, the Council
of Jewish Communities in Judea,Samaria and Gaza
on Tuesday, showed film footage of Palestinian farmers pruning their own trees near Yitzhar
The film footage clearly showed Palestinian farmers pruning their trees heavily in order to improve next year's olive harvest. The settlers claimed that it was proof that in many cases the Israeli security authorities were quick to blame the settlers without investigating the situation thoroughly. A statement issued by the Council accused the Palestinian farmers of waging a political campaign against the settlers in order to receive compensation from the Israeli government.
Ahuva Shilo spokeswoman for the Samaria Regional Council described the recent headlines in the media blaming the settlers, "sheer provocation." While admitting that there had been a number of incidents in which Jewish assailants were believed to have been responsible, Shilo insisted that the acts of vandalism were sporadic and the work of hotheads.