Israel Police is investigating the alleged May 14 uprooting of 36 olive trees in the West Bank village of Burin, near Nablus, which sits directly below the restive Israeli settlement of Yitzhar.
Council head Nidal Jamain Nagar told Haaretz this was the second time trees have been uprooted from this plot. In October 2019, 27 trees had been ripped out of the ground, he said.
Earlier on Thursday, the Jerusalem Prosecutor’s Office indicted two Israelis, both 16, for destroying trees for alleged racial motives close to the Bat Ayin settlement, near Jerusalem, also on May 14. The charge sheet says they came to an olive grove in the evening and destroyed trees by sawing them and by breaking branches with their hands.
Olive, which have been planted and harvested in the region for thousands of years, are a major product for the embattled Palestinian economy, as well as highly symbolic.
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Israeli settlers are regularly involved in altercations that result in damage to Palestinian olive groves, with victims putting little faith in the police response.
The past few weeks have seen tempers rise in the West Bank, as coronavirus lockdowns give way to annexation fears. Confrontations between Israelis and Palestinians have led to the death of one Israeli soldier and several Palestinians. Some were killed by Israeli forces for allegedly carrying attacks, others without justification.
Israeli soldiers were also filmed slashing car tires and throwing tear gas canisters in the apparently peaceful village of Kafr Qaddum last week, allegedly responding to "violent riots."