Palestinian Olive Trees Vandalized in Suspected West Bank Hate Crime

Incident took place near illegal Israeli outpost of Netiv Ha'avot, where 15 homes were evacuated Tuesday

File photo: Graffiti reading 'Stop the agricultural terror' found on hay stacks in Burin, West Bank, June 2018
Yesh Din

A Palestinian farmer from the West Bank woke up to suspected hate crime Thursday morning, finding his olive trees vandalized and Hebrew graffiti reading "stop the agricultural terror." Last weekend, the same slogan was found next to several dozen bushels of harvested Palestinian wheat that were torched.

According to Palestinian residents who spoke to Haaretz, as many as 200 olive trees and grape vines were vandalized in the village of Bayt Sakarya, which is located south of Jerusalem off road number 60 that leads to Hebron.

Next to the village are the Israeli settlement of Elazar and the nearby unauthorized outpost of Netiv Ha'avot, where security forces on Tuesday evacuated settlers from 15 homes which were built on private Palestinian land.

Right-wing activists resisted the eviction, throwing stones and other objects at the police officers, injuring six – one moderately and the rest lightly. Three protestors were arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer.

“I cannot recall a legal action as irrational as this,” Habayit Hayehudi chairman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett said of the eviction.

On Monday, West Bank District Police released two minors held for two weeks as suspects for "Price Tag" vandalism incidents against Palestinians in the West Bank. Neither suspect was brought before a judge. One of them was denied access to an attorney for much of his time in custody.

This year has seen an exponential spike in hate crimes compared to 2017, according to information published by the Shin Bet in April.