Palestinians: Settlers Cut Down 200 Olive Trees Near Nablus

Destruction of trees comes day after Kibbutz volunteers helped Salem village residents restore damaged olive groves.

Eli Ashkenazi
Arnon Regular, Haaretz Correspondents
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Eli Ashkenazi
Arnon Regular, Haaretz Correspondents

Palestinians on Sunday said that settlers cut down more than 200 olive trees in the West Bank village of Salem, near Nablus. The Palestinians told the police that the settlers arrived during the night and cut down the trees using chainsaws. Police were trying to track the settlers responsible for the act.

The destruction of the trees came a day after after volunteers from the Kibbutz Movement's assignment division, headed by Yoel Marshak, helped the residents of Salem restore olive groves that were destroyed by Elon Moreh settlers a month ago.

The Palestinian farmers had not tended the groves since they were destroyed for fear of being attacked by the settlers.

Throughout the mission, Marshak was in touch with Israel Defense Forces troops to ensure that the restoration would go ahead without any violent clashes. "The Kibbutz Movement assists any farmer in distress out of social solidarity. The same way we helped Gush Katif farmers during the evacuation, we are now helping Palestinians prepare the ground for planting the olive trees after they were destroyed," Marshak said.

Marshak also called on settlers to stop harassing Palestinians and to avoid disrupting the preparations for planting the trees. He called on the army to act more aggressively toward any further attempts to harm the Palestinian farmers. He said that Palestinian farmers were unable to go near their olive groves since the settlers destroyed them, and that this caused them great economic distress.

The volunteers plan to help the Palestinians on the upcoming weekends to prepare the ground for the planting of the olive trees, scheduled for December 24.

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