Palestinian Farmer Accuses West Bank Settlers of Cutting Down 100 Olive Trees

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A cut down tree in al-Mughayir, October 27, 2020.
A cut down tree in al-Mughayir, October 27, 2020.Credit: Said Abu Alia

A Palestinian farmer found on Monday some 100 olive trees chopped down in his orchard in a West Bank village north of Ramallah, claiming Israeli settlers are responsible for the incident.

The orchard’s owner, Musa Abu Alia, said he made the discovery when he arrived at the orchard in al-Mughayir, but believes they had been chopped down weeks earlier, at the start of the olive harvest season. He says Israeli settlers damage his orchard every year.

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Abu Alia said he filed a complaint with the Israeli police and Haaretz has seen documentation confirming the complaint, but police argued that no report of the incident had been received and therefore they were not investigating the case.

"It was a terrible and painful sight," Abu Alia said, "It's clear who the perpetrators are and who plotted this crime, because they used an electric saw to chop down around 120 trees."

He said the condition of the trees, dating back to the 1980s, suggests that this happened weeks ago and not recently. “We can only get to the area twice a year if we coordinate ahead of time," he explained. "One of these being during the olive harvest season and therefore it’s hard to know exactly when this occurred but it must have been at the start of the season, and instead of harvesting olives I’m looking at this site and weeping."

Every year they do damage, either by chopping down a tree or arson or just doing some vandalism," Abu Alia said of the settlers. "I can tell you that in '82 I planted 600 olive trees in my orchards and only 15 are left."

In a separate incident, a 32-year-old Palestinian was struck in the head by a rock on Friday while picking olives at his orchard in the village of Burin, near the settlement of Yitzhar

Mohammed Zaban said he was assaulted at around noon when 20 masked people came from the direction of Yitzhar and started to throw stones at him and his brothers.

He was taken to hospital with a suspected skull fracture and was treated there for three days. His brother’s arm was broken.

His uncle, Abed, corroborated his account and said that Palestinians came afterwards and threw stones at the assailants to chase them away.

Zaban said he had not filed a complaint with police. "The police don’t do anything. It’s pointless," he said.

Human rights group B'Tselem recorded 29 attacks against Palestinians and Palestinian property during this year's olive harvest season, allegedly by Israeli settlers. Six of these cases involved physical assault.