Palestinians Report Hundreds of Olive Trees Destroyed in West Bank Overnight

No Hebrew graffiti was found at the groves where the trees were damaged, unlike previous such attacks on Palestinian agriculture

A branch of a olive tree that was cut down near the town of Susya, in The West Bank, on Thursday, July 11, 2019.
Nasser Nawj'a / B'Tselem

Palestinians from two West Bank towns reported that dozens of olive trees in their groves were cut down Wednesday overnight. 

In the area of the southern Hebron Hills, near the village of Susya, some 160 trees were cut down. Meanwhile, Palestinians reported that some 100 trees were damaged in the town of Turmus Ayya in the central West Bank.

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No perpetrators were located as of yet, and it appears that no hateful graffiti was sprayed near the groves, which was the case in other such targeted attacks on Palestinian agriculture by Israeli settlers in the past.

>> Read more: Everyone knows settlers cut down Palestinian olive trees. But Israel doesn't careThe sadists who destroyed a decades-old Palestinian olive grove can rest easy | Gideon Levy

The incident comes after residents of the West Bank village of Deir Qadis reported on Wednesday that hateful graffiti had been sprayed by settlers who entered the village during the night. The slogans specifically targeted Mahmoud Qatusa, a Palestinian who was accused of raping an Israeli seven-year-old girl in the West Bank and was then released. The Israeli offenders sprayed the inscription "Death penalty for Mahmoud Qatusa" and damaged several vehicles in the village as well.

“I’m not afraid they will reach me, I’m an innocent man, I don’t know who’s against me and don’t know who did it, but we must work hard on this and know who did it, if settlers came or others,” Qatusa said.

Qatusa was detained for 56 days and released after military prosecutors decided to withdraw the indictment against him. The decision by the military prosecution came after numerous reports of legal complications and contradictions in the investigation.

Earlier this week, Palestinian cars were vandalized and sprayed with threatening Hebrew-language slogans in the West Bank town of Awarta, near Nabuls, in a suspected hate crime. The graffiti suggested that the incident was intended as revenge for a car-ramming attack on Saturday night that left five Israeli soldiers wounded. It included Stars of David and the statements "when our blood is spilled, we will take our fate into our own hands, hello from Hizma" – referring to the village near the checkpoint where the attack took place – and "Judea and Israel are fighting for the dignity of Israel, Hizma revenge."