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Israeli settlers uproot dozens of olive trees in Bruqin village

Oct. 10, 2018 11:45 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 11, 2018 2:59 P.M.)
SALFIT (Ma'an) -- Israeli settlers uprooted dozens of olive trees, on Wednesday, west of the Palestinian village of Bruqin in the northern occupied West Bank district of Salfit.

Jamal Othman Salameh, the owner of the uprooted olive trees, told Ma'an that Israeli settlers from the illegal Israeli settlement of Bruchin uprooted and cut down some 40 olive trees.

Salameh said that the uprooted olive trees ranged from two to twenty years old.

"I farmed this land, which measures 2.5 dunams (0.6 acres), and planted 200 olive trees in 1987, however, the Israeli occupation aspires to annex them at our expense, as part of their plan to expand the settlement of Bruchin."

He mentioned that in order to force out Palestinian farmer and residents from the lands in question, Israeli settlers have increased their vandalism and violence towards lands and olive trees, adding that in 2016 Israeli settlers set ablaze 200 olive trees, of which only a number of trees survived the incident.

Salameh added that in the same year, Israeli settlers from the Bruchin settlement had also uprooted 60 olive trees.

Despite Israeli settlers' vandalism, Salameh invested in purchasing more olive trees, 50 shekels ($14) per tree.

Between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law.

The Palestinian government has no jurisdiction over Israelis in the West Bank, and acts carried out by Israeli settlers often occur in the presence of Israeli military forces who rarely act to protect Palestinian residents.

The majority of settler thefts committed against Palestinians are met with impunity, with Israelis rarely facing consequences for such thefts.

Only 1.9 percent of complaints submitted by Palestinians against Israeli settler attacks or theft result in a conviction, while 95.6 percent of investigations of damage to olive trees are closed due to failures of Israeli police, according to the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din.

According to Palestinians and rights groups, Israel's main goal, both in its policies in Area C, in which more than 60% of Palestinian land is under full Israeli control, and Israel's illegal settlement enterprise, is to depopulate the land of its Palestinian residents and to replace them with Jewish Israeli communities, in order to manipulate population demographics in all of historic Palestine.

The movement of Israeli settlers taking over Palestinian land, and further displacing the local Palestinian population has been a "stable" Israeli policy since the takeover of the West Bank and Jerusalem in 1967, B'Tselem said, underscoring that all "Israeli legislative, legal, planning, funding, and defense bodies" have played an active role in the dispossession of Palestinians from their lands.

B’Tselem also argued that under the guise of a "temporary military occupation," Israel has been "using the land as its own: robbing land, exploiting the area's natural resources for its own benefit and establishing permanent settlements," estimating that Israel had dispossessed Palestinians from some 200,000 hectares (494,211 acres) of lands in the occupied Palestinian territory over the years.

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