SALFIT (Ma'an) -- Israeli settlers chopped down more than 70 olive trees between the towns of Yasuf and Jammain in the northern West Bank districts of Salfit and Nablus on Monday.
Palestinian farmers said the trees, which lay close to the illegal Israeli settlements of Ariel and Taffuh, had been cut down using chainsaws.
A local, Khalid Maali, said that because the land lay close to settler roads near the Zaatara checkpoint it had been easy for the settlers to flee afterwards.
The olive industry supports the livelihoods of roughly 80,000 families in the occupied West Bank, and the Salfit district in particular is known for its fertile soil and large olive trees.
Settlers attack olive trees in a bid to oust Palestinian farmers from their land, and a loss of a year's crops can cause destitution for farming families.
According to the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem, in addition to confiscating Palestinian land in Yasuf in northern Salfit, "Israeli settlers have also carried out a series of attacks against Palestinian landowners in an attempt to intimidate them and deter them from returning to their land."
Meanwhile, in Jammain in southern Nablus, "attacks and violence perpetrated by settlers living in the settlements near Jammain town has had a profoundly negative impact on residents and their property.
"Palestinian land owners are unable to access their lands, as they have been fenced off with barbed wire. Settlers have planted trees in these areas to reinforce their control over the area. The settlers have damaged and burned a number of Palestinian owned trees and plants."
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 ARIJ.