More than 2,000 trees in West Bank Palestinian villages destroyed in two months. According to B`Tselem, in one incident near Hebron, 700 vines were damaged. So far, 10 suspects have been arrested, all of whom have been released.
Please pardon the prolific use of passive voice (الفاعل المجهول) in this article. Please excuse also the inexactness of the title; reference to Palestine here is limited ahistorically to just the 1967-occupied territories—HLRN.
Palestinians in the West Bank village of al-Mughayyir awoke Monday morning to discover that they had had unwelcome visitors overnight: Car tires had been punctured, and houses were spray-painted with slogans in Hebrew to protest stone throwing. Two kilometers away, 25 trees belonging to the villagers were cut down, the latest of more than 2,000 trees that have been destroyed since 1 May.
As in dozens of similar incidents in recent months, police have opened an investigation, but haven’t yet arrested any suspects.
Attacks by Jews on Palestinian villages throughout the West Bank have become commonplace in recent months. Almost every week, Palestinians somewhere in the territory wake up to vandalized property and racist slogans [scrawled and/or hollered?] in Hebrew.
So far, police have arrested 10 people in the cases. Some were questioned about specific attacks, but most were only interrogated about involvement in hate crimes in general. And all were later released.
The investigations continue, but they have yet to produce any results.
At least 2,000 trees were said to have been cut down between 1 May and 7 July, including fruit trees, olive trees and grape vines, according to data from Palestinian victims of hate crimes collected by the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.
In some cases, the vandals torched bales of hay; in one case, they set fire to an entire field of barley. A particularly common slogan is “Enough agricultural terror,” the implication being that the attacks on Palestinian orchards and vineyards are to protest Palestinian attacks on Jewish orchards and vineyards.
Sometimes the damage is fairly small, such as the 25 trees cut down in al-Mughayyir. Other attacks are much larger in scope. On 26 May, for example, 700 vines were cut down in a vineyard near Hebron. On 16 May, 400 vines were destroyed in Halhul, and on 22 May 180 vines were destroyed in the town.
Altogether, B’Tselem said, at least 880 vines in five separate vineyards were destroyed in Halhul in May.
Mazen Shehadeh, the mayor of the West Bank Palestinian village of Urif, said there have been four or five attacks affecting five different farmers in his village, where several dozen trees were destroyed.
“They’ve caused damage like this four or five times,” he said. “Once they destroyed 34 trees, and later they destroyed another 17 trees – big ones, 75 or 80 years old. “Another time they torched cars,” he continued. “That was the last time. In total, five farmers have been hurt by this, five people. There are no suspects or anything like that.”
Much of the vandalism has targeted olive trees, which are easier to cut down than other trees. In Turmus Ayya, 130 olives trees were destroyed on 9 June, and in Burin, a fire damaged 150 trees on 23 June. In that case, however, there were no slogans in Hebrew to support the claim that this was an attack by Israelis.
Photo: Scorched earth: Olive trees in the West Bank village of al-Mughayyir, 30 July 2018. Source: B`Tselem.
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And that’s just since 2017.