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Israeli forces uproot 120 olive trees near Salfit

April 2, 2015 2:48 P.M. (Updated: April 3, 2015 8:52 P.M.)
SALFIT (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities on Thursday destroyed around 120 olive trees belonging to Palestinian farmers in the northern West Bank, bringing the total number of olive trees destroyed across the region in the last month to nearly 2,000.

Farmers living in the village of Wadi Qana near Salfit told Ma'an that Israeli military vehicles accompanied by vehicles belonging to the nature and environmental protection agency of the Israeli civil administration raided the area Thursday morning.

The officers uprooted and confiscated the olive trees during the raid.

According to the local farmers, the trees belonged to Hassan Mustafa Mansour, Ahmad Khalil Mansour, and Qassem Nasser Mansour.

Israeli forces had delivered orders to the farmers to evacuate their lands more than three weeks ago, the farmers said.

Wadi Qana is located inside an Israeli settlement bloc and is thus surrounded on all sides by Jewish-only settlements. it is located in an area in the "seam zone," cut off from all other Palestinian villages in the region.

The attack follows the uprooting of 1,200 trees in al-Shuyukh near Hebron on March 29, 300 trees in Majdal Bani Fadil near Nablus on March 18, 300 trees in Salem near Nablus on March 9, as well as a number of other smaller incidents.

Israeli authorities often rezone Palestinian agricultural areas near Jewish settlements as security zones or state land, thus providing a justification for the destruction of olive trees planted in the area.

Attacks on olive trees 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.

If attacks are frequent enough that Palestinians can no longer access their trees regularly, meanwhile, settlers can argue that Palestinians have abandoned the properties and thus take possession of them as well.

Since 1967, approximately 800,000 olive trees have been uprooted in the occupied West Bank, according to a joint report by the Palestinian Authority and the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem.

The olive industry supports the livelihoods of roughly 80,000 families in the occupied West Bank.
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