Israeli settlers have attacked Palestinian orchards in central West Bank, damaging a vast area of olive stands by uprooting hundreds of trees.
The assault came Monday night in groves near the village of Mukhmas, a few kilometers northeast of Jerusalem (al-Quds), close to the illegal outpost of Migron, Haaretz reported.
Locals said this was the third time the settlers had attacked their gardens in the relatively quiet area, seldom a scene of confrontations with Israelis.
The extent of the destruction and the damage done to the trees across a wide swathe suggested the raid had been well-organized and carried out by a group of people.
The deputy mayor of the village, Mohammed al-Haj, said the village had seen similar attacks once in May 2008 and again in October 2009, where more damage was done to local olive orchards.
The villagers filed complaints with the police and the Civil Administration, while rights groups regret very few investigations into the uprooting cases have resulted in indictments.
Palestinian villagers complain that if Israeli forces guarded them as they guard the settlers, “none of it would have happened.”
Some of the villagers that own groves close to Migron accused Israeli settlers of sparking clashes every time Palestinians go there to take care of their trees, inflicting immense financial losses on the grove owners.
Palestinian olive orchards have long been a target of attacks by Israeli forces and settlers, something the Palestinians have described as a systematic move aimed at mounting financial pressure on Palestinian families and further undermine the territory’s crashing economy.
Earlier this month, Palestinian sources accused the Israeli regime of destroying some 400,000 trees during their incursions into territories under the Palestinian Authority’s rule in the last two years.