NABLUS, Friday, September 18, 2020 (WAFA) – Israeli settlers today chopped down dozens of olive trees in As-Sawiya village, south of Nablus city, according to a local municipal source.
Head of As-Sawiya Village Council Murad Abu Ras said that the villagers were shocked to find out in the morning that dozens of their olive trees were chopped down by settlers from the nearby Israeli colonial settlement of Rechalim.
Abu Ras added that settlers have been frequently targeting Palestinian olive groves in the village, and destroying centuries-old olive trees.
Settler attacks intensify as Palestinian farmers start the olive harvesting season. Attacks are mainly in the northern villages near Nablus and Salfit districts, which have the largest concentration of colonial settlements.
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.”
“Because the trees are drought-resistant and grow under poor soil conditions, they represent Palestinian resistance and resilience. The fact that olive trees live and bear fruit for thousands of years is parallel to Palestinian history and continuity on the land.”
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.
There are almost 834,000 Israeli settlers living in colonial settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.