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Settlers attack Palestinian olive farmers for 2nd time in 2 days

Oct. 10, 2014 3:22 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 12, 2014 10:43 A.M.)
SALFIT (Ma'an) -- Dozens of Israeli settlers protected by soldiers burned and damaged olive trees on Palestinian lands in the Yasuf village near Salfit in the northern West Bank on Friday, the second suck attack in the last two days.

Settlers from the Kfar Tappuah settlement set fire to and damaged several olive trees on Friday while Israeli soldiers in the area stood by watching, eyewitnesses said.

The lands that were attacked reportedly belonged to Nafiz and Issam Ali Mansour.

Issam Abu Bakr, mayor of Salfit, warned farmers against the "settlers' attacks" and recommended residents work in groups in the lands close to nearby Jewish-only settlements.

The attack in Yasuf follows a similar incident Thursday near Aqraba, south of Nablus, where settlers from Itamar reportedly attacked dozens of Palestinian farmers and sought to steal their olive crop.

The attacks come as the 2014 olive harvest, a major source of income for Palestinian farmers, begins across the northern West Bank, and just weeks before harvesting begins across the south.

Attacks on the fall harvest are a key way that Palestinians are forced out of their homes and their lands confiscated for settlement construction, as the loss of a year's crop can signal destitution for many.

According to a 2012 report on Israeli settler violence released by the Palestine Center, a Washington-based nonprofit, every year the olive harvest period sees the highest peak in attacks on Palestinian civilians and property.

Over 7,500 olive trees were damaged or destroyed by settlers between January and mid-October in 2012, according to OCHA.

Settler violence against Palestinians and their property in the occupied West Bank is systematic and ignored by Israeli authorities, who rarely intervene in the violent attacks or prosecute the perpetrators.

In 2013, there were 399 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
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