NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Palestinian residents of the Nablus-area village of Burqa went to check on their farmlands on the outskirts of the village Monday to find some 700 olive and almond trees cut down, allegedly by Israeli settlers from a nearby illegal settlement.
Ghassan Daghlas, an official who monitors settlement related activities in the northern West Bank, told Ma'an that the trees, which belonged to Khalid Salah, Mahmoud Daghlas, and Khalid Nasser, were planted nine years ago in the al-Qubeibat and al-Qusour areas east of Burqa.
The trees, added Daghlas, were planted two years after the eviction of the nearby Homesh settlement which was located in northwest Nablus. He explained to Ma'an that after the eviction, the Palestinian landowners obtained decisions from Israeli courts, including the Supreme Court, that neither settlers, nor Israeli forces would harass the landowners.
However, he said, in 2016 settlers started to "camp" in the area under protection of Israeli troops, making it very difficult for farmers to tend their fields and water their trees.
One of the landowners, Khalid Salah, managed to reach his field on Monday and notified other farmers, as well as Daghlas, that Israeli settlers had chopped down all the trees they planted in 2007.
Daghlas added that Burqa villagers would organize a protest in the fields on Friday.
When asked if there were photos of the cut-down trees, Daghlas said the presence of Israeli troops and settlers made it difficult for farmers to reach the fields and take photos.
An Israeli spokesperson for COGAT, the agency responsible for implementing Israeli government policies in the occupied territory, was not immediately available for comment on the incident.