November 25, 2009

Rights group: 69 cases of Palestinian olive trees destroyed, but no prosecutions

By Chaim Levinson, Haaretz
November 25, 2009

The human rights organization Yesh Din says not one of the 69 complaints filed during the past four years on damage to Palestinians' trees in the West Bank has resulted in an indictment. The organization released a report on the matter Tuesday and makes specific reference to damage caused to olive groves, central to the livelihood of Palestinian villagers.

The olive harvest season is coming to an end in most parts of the West Bank this week, with the exception of those areas at higher elevations. Attacks targeting trees harvested by Palestinians - olive trees in particular, but also almond, fig, lemon and others - has been on the rise in recent years.

During the past four years, Yesh Din filed 69 complaints which are under investigation by police in the West Bank. The toll involves many thousands of trees in numerous areas, from Susya in the southern Hebron Hills to Salem in northern Samaria.

According to the report, 27 cases (40 percent of the cases for which complaints were filed) were documented between January and October of this year. Notwithstanding Israel Defense Forces reports that the olive harvest passed "quietly" during the months of September and October, the human rights group reported dozens of incidents in which hundreds of Palestinian trees were damaged.

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