The Shai (West Bank) Police have opened an investigation following the uprooting of over 300 olive trees and 20 fig trees and vines in the plot of a Palestinian farmer in the area of al-Tawamin in the South Hebron Hills.
The farmer, Abu Mahmoud Barakat from the town of Yatta, told Haaretz that he estimates the damage caused to him – which includes the destruction of the irrigation system at the site – to be about 200,000 shekels ($59,000).
He said that this is the second time that trees have been uprooted in his plot in the past two years. About two years ago, he submitted a complaint to the police for the uprooting of 130 olive trees on his plot. He said that “Nobody [from the police] has even bothered to call me since then.” Barakat explained that he visits his plot every day. Due to a family event he was absent from Tuesday until Shabbat. Upon his return he discovered that the young trees – which were about four and a half years old – had been uprooted.
B’Tselem - The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, said that they documented 76 instances of violence by settlers against Palestinian farmers and shepherds between January and June. In 45 cases settlers damaged the property of farmers (including chopping down olive trees, destroying crops and fences). In 36 cases, they attacked farmers or shepherds, or threatened them. B’Tselem says that 23 of the cases included physical violence, and in 10 instances those who were attacked required treatment in a hospital.
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According to the Yesh Din rights group, from January 2018 to August 2020, the organization collected 31 testimonies about instances where trees were damaged in the West Bank. According to their figures, five incidents were registered in 2018, 11 in 2019 and 25 in 2020. In these incidents over 2,000 trees were chopped down or uprooted, most of them olive trees. Three of the cases were closed,15 are still open.