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Israeli forces uproot 2,000 olive trees in the West Bank

Israeli forces and settlers regularly attack Palestinian farmers and destroy their crops, especially during harvest season
A Palestinian inspects the olive trees destroyed by Israeli forces in his field in the village of Marda in the West Bank, on 30 March 2022 (Reuters)

Israeli forces on Monday uprooted and destroyed some 2,000 olive trees in the Palestinian village of Qarawat Bani Hassan in the northern occupied West Bank, according to local media.

Ibrahim Assi, the mayor of Qarawat Bani Hassan, said soldiers stormed al-Awarid, an area north of the village, declared it a closed military zone, then proceeded to bulldoze the area, of around 300 dunams (o.3 square km), in an operation that lasted for more than five hours. 

Assi said Israeli forces destroyed stone walls, "stole the olive trees they uprooted", and sprayed chemical pesticides over olive, grape and almond saplings. 

"Occupation forces are carrying out another ugly massacre against olive trees," after having uprooted 3,000 trees in the Deir Ballout town, west of Salfit, in January 2021, Assi was quoted as saying.

The olive harvest season, which runs between October and November, is a lifeline for 80,000 to 100,000 Palestinian families in the occupied West Bank.

According to UN data, almost half of Palestinian agricultural lands are planted with an estimated 10 million olive trees in the West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip. 

Palestinian farmers are often restricted by Israeli authorities from accessing their lands that are close to settlements or the separation wall.

Farmers and their lands are also the target of repeated attacks by settlers, which include physical assault, vandalism and theft, especially during harvest seasons, according to the UN

Negev village demolished

In other developments, Israeli forces demolished the village of al-Araqib, one of 35 Palestinian villages in the Negev desert that are unrecognised by Israeli authorities, for the 13th time this year alone.

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In the early hours of Monday, Israeli police stormed the village and forced residents to leave their homes, many of which are tin houses and tents, before bulldozers demolished them.

Al-Araqib has been destroyed 209 times since 2010, including 14 times last year.

There are 22 Bedouin families, numbering around 800 people, who still remain in the village, according to local reports, living off livestock farming and desert farming.

There are almost 100,000 Palestinians who hold Israeli citizenship living in these unrecognised villages, which are denied any infrastructure or support from the government. They are among 300,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel living in Negev towns.

During the past 50 years, Israel has attempted to move Bedouins into “recognised” communities, repeatedly arguing that those in unrecognised areas have no claim to the land, even though most have lived on or near these lands since before Israel was established in 1948.

There are no means of transportation, no roads, no schools, and Israeli authorities do not collaborate with their local leadership.

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