Israeli settlers uproot olive saplings in West Bank town


Israeli settlers today uprooted some 110 olive saplings in the town of Burqin, west of the northern West Bank city of Salfit, according to local sources. Ghaleb al-Sheikh Omar told WAFA that settlers sneaked their way into his 14-donum grove, which forms a part of Khirbet Jalal al-Din, northeast of the town, and uprooted 85 olive saplings. The settlers also uprooted 25 olive saplings belonging to Mohamed al-Sheikh in his grove in al-Matwi area, east of the town. Settler violence against Palestinians and their property is routine in the West Bank and is rarely prosecuted by Israeli authorities. Settlers violence includes property and mosque arsons, stone-throwing, uprooting of crops and olive trees, attacks on vulnerable homes, among others. Over 700,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law. With more than 12 million olive trees planted across 45% of the West Bank’s agricultural land, the olive harvest constitutes one of the biggest sources of economic sustainability for thousands of Palestinian families. According to UN OCHA, the olive oil industry supports the livelihoods of more than 100,000 families and accounts for a quarter of the gross agricultural income of the occupied territories. But, as local NGO MIFTAH notes, “olive trees carry more than an economic significance in the lives of Palestinians. They are not just like any other trees, they are symbolic of Palestinians’ attachment to their land.”