BETHLEHEM, Monday, October 03, 2022 (WAFA) – Israeli settlers today uprooted dozens of olive saplings in al-Khader town, south of Bethlehem city, according to WAFA correspondent.
He reported that according to Khaled Salah, an eyewitness, settlers ravaged his olive grove adjacent to the settler-only by-pass Road 60, west of the town, uprooting and damaging 40 recently planted olive saplings.
Since the start of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in 1967, like so many other villages in Palestine, al-Khader, located 4 kilometers to the west of Bethlehem city, has been subjected to frequent settler attacks and almost continual land theft for Israeli colonial settlements, bypass roads, and military installations.
Such settler attacks include destroying olive trees and grape vines and preventing farmers from accessing their groves.
Israel has constructed Efrat and Neve Daniyyel colonial settlements on an area of 6,329 dunums of Palestinian land, including a portion confiscated from al-Khader. It has also constructed a section of the apartheid wall, isolating some 5,620 dunums of the town’s land for colonial settlement activities and pushing the villagers into a crowded enclave, a ghetto, surrounded by walls, settlements and military installations.
It has confiscated more land for the construction of a tunnel and a crossing, controlling Palestinian movement from Bethlehem city and the western countryside villages.
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.”