Zionist settlers uprooted on Thursday more than 5,000 olive tree saplings in agricultural lands east of the town of Turmusayya in the Ramallah district, locals said, a day after settlers ran over a Palestinian boy and burnt down a Palestinian home in the occupied West Bank.
Awad Abu Samra, one of the land owners targeted, told Ma’an news agency that in the past week settlers raided the area and attacked olive trees on an almost daily basis.
The settlers uprooted the trees in a way that makes it impossible for Palestinian farmers to plant the trees again in the future, locals said, accusing the Zionists of pressuring Palestinians out of their lands.
Samra estimated that the settlers were able to uproot around 5,000 olive tree saplings, out of the 8,000 trees planted in honor of slain 55-year-old Palestinian Authority minister Ziad Abu Ein.
Abu Ein died on December 10 after Israeli Occupation Forces beat him on the chest with the butts of their rifles and their helmets in Turmsayya during a peaceful march marking Human Rights Day.
Abu Samra said that the settlers who carried out the attacks most likely came from the nearby illegal settlement of Adei Ad, an outpost of the Zionist-only settlement of Shilo, which was illegaly built on lands confiscated from local Palestinians.
Jamil al-Barghouthi, president of the Resistance Committee against the Wall and the Settlements, told Ma’an that the “barbaric act” occurred under the cover and protection of the Israeli Occupation Forces.
Barghouthi, who lives in the area, said settlers frequently attack Palestinian farmers in a bid to force them out of their own land and seize it for illegal settlement building projects.
He stressed that the committee will replant thousands of olive trees and will provide full assistance to farmers to help them cultivate the land anew.
Israeli settlers and military forces regularly sabotage, burn and uproot hundreds of thousands of olive trees, which are highly symbolic for the Palestinian community.
Attacks on olive trees are a way to force Palestinians out of their homes and lands for illegal settlement construction projects, as the loss of a year’s crop can signal destitution for many.
The olive industry supports the livelihoods of roughly 80,000 families in the occupied West Bank.
In order to build its apartheid wall and infrastructure for Zionist-only settlements, Israeli bulldozers plowed down more than 800,000 olive trees in the West Bank, the equivalent of bulldozing all of New York City’s Central Park 33 times.
Settler violence against Palestinians and their property is systematic and often abetted by Israeli authorities, who rarely intervene in the violent attacks or prosecute the perpetrators.
In the last two weeks of 2014, there had been 320 incidents of settler violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
Three separate settler violence incidents were reported on December 31.
Israeli hate crimes against Palestinians
A 10-year-old Palestinian boy was injured after an Israeli settler ran him over in the Palestinian village of Tuqu south east of Bethlehem.
Bethlehem region emergency services official Mohammed Awad told Ma’an that Amir Majed Ahmed Suleiman, 10, was injured on his way to school after a Zionist settler ran him over with his car.
Israeli forces were deployed on the main road of the village but the settler immediately fled the area, Awad said.
He added that Suleiman was taken to the Beit Jala Governmental Hospital in Bethlehem for treatment.
The incident came only three days after an Israeli settler ran over a seven-year-old Palestinian boy from the village of Zif south of al-Khalil.
Recent months have seen a wave of hit-and-runs against Palestinians by Zionist settlers living in the occupied West Bank and annexed East Jerusalem.
In October, a settler ran over two Palestinian children as they walked near near Ramallah, killing a 5-year-old Palestinian girl.
Meanwhile in a separate incident, a group of Israeli settlers set a Palestinian home on fire in the village of al-Deirat south of West Bank.
The mayor of Yatta, a nearby village, told Ma’an that the incident was “very dangerous and aimed to kill an entire family of seven, including five children.”
The mayor Moussa Makhamreh said that a group of settlers from the nearby Zionist-only settlement of Karmel broke the windows of Mahmoud Mohammed Jaber al-Adra’s house at around 3:00 am, throwing Molotov cocktails through the windows and spraying racist slogans on the walls.
The slogans read, ironically, “Death to Arabs” and “‘Respectfully Leave.”
The Jewish-only settlement of Karmel is notorious for its settlers’ violent and racist attacks and threats against local Palestinians.
The settlement lies almost entirely in Area C, the 62 percent of the West Bank under full Israeli civil and military occupation since 1993.
Around 3,000 Israeli settlers live in illegal Zionist settlements in the Yatta region, according to the Applied Research Institute Jerusalem.
The safety of these settlers is often given as an excuse for the forced displacement of Palestinians who live in nearby villages.
The roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict date back to 1917, when the British government, in the now-famous “Balfour Declaration,” called for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”
Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Zionist state – a move never recognized by the international community.