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Israel notifies Salfit farmers of plans to remove 140 olive trees

Sept. 28, 2015 7:52 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 29, 2015 10:55 A.M.)
(MaanImages/File)
NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities on Monday delivered notices to Palestinian farmers informing them of plans to remove 140 olive trees from the town of Qarawat Bani Hassan in Salfit district in the occupied West Bank, the farmers told Ma'an.

They said that the trees are located in the al-Safar area of the town, which Israeli officials consider a nature reserve.

The farmers did not provide any further details, and an Israeli nature authority spokesperson could not be reached for comment.

Khalid Maali, who monitors settler activity in Salfit, said that Israel often use nature reserves as a pretext to take over Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank.

Maali said there are three nature reserves in Salfit alone that have been used as a pretext for settlement expansion.

According to the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem (ARIJ), there are at least 48 nature reserves -- which take up 12.4 percent of land -- across the occupied West Bank.

"The destruction and distortion of nature reserves in the occupied West Bank for the implementation of the various Israeli colonial projects is just an integral part of what happens in the occupied West Bank," ARIJ said in a report.

Maali called on local and international rights organizations to pressure Israeli authorities to stop confiscating land in Salfit for settlements, which are considered illegal under international law.

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.

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.
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