Olive tree sab­o­tage hits Pales­tinian farm­ers

‘At­tacks on farms agri­cul­tural ter­ror’

Arab Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

NABLUS, Pales­tinian Ter­ri­to­ries, Nov 10, (AFP): Pales­tinian farmer Mah­mud Abu Shi­nar sur­veys two rows of sev­ered olive trees – some­thing he says has be­come a sadly fa­mil­iar sight.

He didn’t see who took a chain­saw to them at night, but he blames res­i­dents of an Is­raeli set­tle­ment a few hun­dred me­tres (yards) away.

“We came on Sun­day and were shocked that all these trees were cut down,” Abu Shi­nar said.

“I called the landowner. They came and the (Is­raeli) army and se­cu­rity forces came too. But of course it was use­less.”

Olives are per­haps the most well-known and abun­dant Pales­tinian prod­uct, with trees lin­ing val­leys and ter­raced hill­sides through­out the oc­cu­pied West Bank.

The first rains af­ter the hot sum­mer months are the sig­nal for farm­ers to be­gin har­vest­ing their crop, but it can come with risks.

In many places, farm­ers say they face in­tim­i­da­tion and vi­o­lence from nearby set­tlers and call in sup­port from for­eign and Is­raeli sup­port­ers, in­clud­ing Jew­ish rab­bis, to pro­tect them and their crops.

Some of the in­ci­dents are seen as at­tempts at re­venge fol­low­ing Pales­tinian at­tacks on Is­raelis, even if the farm­ers tar­geted were not in­volved.

In other cases, say rights groups, there is lit­tle mo­ti­va­tion other than just to de­stroy Pales­tinian prop­erty.

Some rights groups have dis­trib­uted video footage of such in­ci­dents in a bid to pres­sure Is­raeli au­thor­i­ties to act.

Is­raeli set­tlers charge that their crops have also been dam­aged by Pales­tini­ans, in­clud­ing an in­ci­dent in May when around 1,000 grapevines were al­legedly de­stroyed.

More than 7,000 Pales­tinian-owned trees have been van­dalised so far this year, ac­cord­ing to the United Na­tions.

In the whole of 2017, it was less than 6,000, the year be­fore only 1,600.

Abu Shi­nar said that in re­cent weeks around 200 trees had been de­stroyed in fields he works on near Ra­mal­lah in the cen­tral West Bank, cost­ing thou­sands of dol­lars in lost earn­ings.

“They want the land,” he said, of the set­tlers. “Who else would come and com­mit a crime like this?”

The body that rep­re­sents West Bank set­tle­ments said there was also an in­crease in at­tacks on Is­raeli-owned farms, la­belling it “agri­cul­tural ter­ror”.

Is­raeli po­lice said they were “in­ves­ti­gat­ing a num­ber of in­ci­dents when dam­age was caused to olive trees”.

“There have also been a num­ber of com­plaints made by Jew­ish

the high­light of an auc­tion of the Bri­tish physi­cist’s per­sonal items in Lon­don, which raised nearly £1.4 mil­lion ($1.8 mil­lion, 1.6 mil­lion eu­ros).

The copy, one of only five orig­i­nals of the the­sis en­ti­tled “Prop­er­ties

of ex­pand­ing uni­verses”, smashed pre-sale ex­pec­ta­tions four times over to sell for £584,750 at the Christie’s sale, which ended on Thurs­day.

A red leather wheel­chair that Hawk­ing used from the late 1980s to the mid-1990s, driv­ing him­self own­ers of fields of dam­age caused to olive trees.”

Pa­trols have been stepped up, po­lice spokesman Micky Rosen­feld said.

But rights groups charge that Pales­tinian crops have long been van­dalised by set­tlers with­out any se­ri­ous ef­fort by the au­thor­i­ties to stop it.

Around 400,000 Is­raelis live in set­tle­ments that dot the West Bank and range in size from large towns to tiny ham­lets. The in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity con­sid­ers them il­le­gal. A few dozen kilo­me­tres (miles) north of Abu Shi­nar’s trees near the city of Nablus, a small group hud­dles un­der a tree, pick­ing through the leaves for olives.

Just 10 me­tres (33 feet) away stands an aban­doned house daubed with He­brew graf­fiti, while the Is­raeli set­tle­ment of Har Brakha is over a hill.

Is­raeli forces pa­trol the area, with one sol­dier telling the Pales­tini­ans they are “there to help”.

But the farm­ers said that two days ear­lier set­tlers had run down and dam­aged trees. They claimed the army is of­ten slow to re­act and sides with set­tlers.

They in­vite in­ter­na­tional and Is­raeli sup­port­ers to at­tend the pick­ing sea­son to help pro­tect them­selves.

Re­tired Bri­tish woman Caro­line, who de­clined to give her full name, said she had been com­ing each year for a decade to work with Pales­tinian com­mu­ni­ties close to “par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult set­tle­ments”.

This year, she said, she went with a fe­male farmer to her land near a set­tle­ment, but the army blocked their path.

“When she even­tu­ally got into the groves, 100 of her trees had been chain­sawed down by set­tlers. There weren’t even any olives for us to pick,” she said.

Rabbi Gil Na­tiv makes sure to wear his kippa cap as he picks olives to show Pales­tini­ans not all Jews sup­port Is­raeli set­tle­ment ex­pan­sion.

“Some (Is­raelis) con­sider us as traitors,” said Na­tiv, who vol­un­teers for the Rab­bis for Hu­man Rights or­gan­i­sa­tion.

“For me the main prin­ci­ple of the Jew­ish faith is all men are cre­ated in the im­age of God and all hu­man be­ings are de­scen­dants of the same Adam and Eve.”

Yi­gal Dil­moni, CEO of the Ye­sha Coun­cil which rep­re­sents Is­raeli set­tle­ments, said in a state­ment to AFP that they “de­plore all acts of van­dal­ism and pur­pose­ful de­struc­tion of prop­erty”.

He high­lighted a se­ries of Pales­tinian at­tacks on Is­raeli set­tle­ments.

us­ing a joy­stick, sold for £296,750 while an early edi­tion of his best­selling book “A Brief His­tory of Time” marked with a thumbprint, fetched £68,750. A script from one of his ap­pear­ances on the tele­vi­sion se­ries “The Simp­sons” was

one of the 22 lots un­der the ham­mer, sell­ing for £6,250. (AP)

Elec­tric cars ‘key’:

When Brazil­ian rac­ing driver Lucas di Grassi de­cided to turn his back on For­mula 1 for elec­tric cars ev­ery­one laughed at him. But six years on, he is con­fi­dent he was right to join For­mula E – the auto rac­ing se­ries that uses only elec­tric-pow­ered cars – as he sees elec­tric cars as the so­lu­tion to com­bat ris­ing air pol­lu­tion in cities glob­ally.

The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) es­ti­mates air pol­lu­tion causes one in nine deaths glob­ally each year lead­ing to strokes, heart dis­ease, lung can­cer, and other res­pi­ra­tory in­fec­tions. Di Grassi, who was this year ap­pointed a United Na­tions En­vi­ron­ment Clean Air Ad­vo­cate, said the role of elec­tric cars in tack­ling air pol­lu­tion be­came clear to him in 2012.

“I started to see a trend of a new tech­nol­ogy that would make ev­ery­thing bet­ter – cheaper, greener, sus­tain­able, bet­ter air qual­ity,” di Grassi told the Thom­son Reuters Foun­da­tion on Thurs­day at the Web Sum­mit, Eu­rope’s largest tech­nol­ogy fo­rum. (RTRS)

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.