Dubai: Israeli colonists have destroyed more than 2,000 trees and grapvines belonging to Palestinians in the span of two months, Israeli rights gorup B’Tselem has reported.
Between the months of May and July, the group documented 10 instances of aggressive vandalism committed by colonists which also saw the burning down of a barley field and bales of hay.
The livelihoods of many Palestinian farmers depend on their crops and Palestinians say that such acts of vandalism are committed purposefully to create conditions to force them off their land and is done with the full backing of the Israeli state.
They point to the fact that Israeli occupation soldiers often accompany and protect the colonists while on their vandalism missions — some even take part.
In some places, the colonists left behind them graffiti slogans in Hebrew, reading “No to farmer terrorism” and “There’s no place we won’t reach”.
Israel occupied the West Bank and Jerusalem in the 1967 War in a move never recognised by the international community.
Since then, it has implemented systmatic policies to build colonies on Palestinian land and create miserable conditions for Palestinian residents.
“Israel benefits from the repercussions, as colonist violence has gradually dispossessed Palestinians of more and more areas in the Occupied West Bank, paving the way for a state takeover of land and resources. This occurs because Palestinians avoid entering areas in which they have been attacked, usually close to colonies,” B’Tselem said in a statement.
“As a result, extensive Palestinian farmland near colonies has been neglected to such an extent that it yields poor crops, making it not worthwhile for the owners to risk their safety to get there,” it added.
Mohammad Abu Rajab, a resident of Hebron, says his 700 grapevines typically produce yields of $27,224 a year.
However in May he discovered one day they had all been chopped down.
“The losses cannot be measured in numbers, we invested seven years of work into those vineyards. We cared for those vines like our own children and it all went down the drain in a single moment,” he told the rights group.