35 tree vandalism cases in 6 weeks

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B’Tselem Press Release, 28 Oct 2010

Bodies of olive streets cut by settlers sit on the highways sidelines

Bodies of olive streets cut by settlers sit on the highways sidelines

Four Israeli human rights groups – The Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI), B’Tselem, Rabbis for Human Rights and Yesh Din – Volunteers for Human Rights – sent an urgent letter today to senior Israeli military commanders, in which they called on the commanders to take all necessary steps to ensure that Palestinians and their properties are protected from violence and damage during the current olive harvest season.

The letter, signed by Attorney Maskit Bendel of ACRI, Attorney Michael Sfard of Yesh Din, Jessica Montell of B’Tselem and Rabbi Arik Ascherman of Rabbis for Human Rights, was sent to Central Command Chief, General Avi Mizrahi, and to the commander of Israeli military forces in the West Bank Brigadier Nitzan Alon. The letter contains a list of 35 incidents in which damage was caused to Palestinian olive trees or property. The incidents occurred between early September and mid-October – at the start of the olive harvest season. In most of the reported cases, a complaint has been filed with the authorities.

Seven out of the 29 incidents took place in the villages of Burin and Hawara, which border with the settlement of Yitzhar; there were also attacks on olive trees have reported in the villages of Far’ata, Til, Imatin and Yanoun, adjacent to the outpost of Havat Gilad. The worst incident so far has been reported in these four villages – the arson of hundreds of olive trees on October 15th.

The organizations’ letter states that according to eyewitnesses, the aforementioned arson attack occurred in the presence of Israeli soldiers, who did nothing to prevent it. Moreover, eyewitnesses claimed that some soldiers even barred Palestinians from accessing the scene and extinguish the fire.

According to human rights organizations, this is not the first year that Israeli citizens damage Palestinian olive trees in the West Bank – in fact, this is a recurring phenomenon which peaks every year around the beginning of the olive harvest. The organizations have called on the Israeli authorities many times before to take all necessary steps to “fulfill duties and obligations and protect the rights of residents who live in the occupied region”. Nevertheless, the letter states, “the regrettable outcome of the incidents described herein proves once and again that the steps taken by the defense forces are insufficient, and the result is a blow to the livelihood of many Palestinian residents”.

Human Rights Groups Document 35 Tree Vandalism Cases in 6 Weeks



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Army vandalism in Hebron: soldiers destroy family’s well in Wad Lerus

Army vandalism in Hebron: soldiers destroy family’s well in Wad Lerus

3 August 2010 | ISM Media

Yesterday morning (2 August 2010) a group of Israeli soldiers, reportedly drunk, used two bulldozers to destroy a well that belonged to a family living in Wad Lerus, Hebron.

Several ISM activists went out to talk to members of the Al Jaabel family in Wad Lerus, close to the Kyriat Arba settlement in Hebron, yesterday afternoon.

Army vandalism in Hebron: soldiers destroy family’s well in Wad Lerus

Army vandalism in Hebron: soldiers destroy family’s well in Wad Lerus

The family members we talked to were very upset since Hebron already has limited water supply, and they depend on this private well in front of their house as a water source, as do some of their neighbours.  They had also invested a lot of resources, both on building the well and filling it with water.

They explained that a group of approximately 50 soldiers and border police arrived at the family home at 11:00 in the morning on Monday. The soldiers were reported to be drunk, drinking cans of beer while carrying out the destruction work. ISM activists observed empty beer cans scattered around the destroyed well.

The family said that soldiers and border police brought two bulldozers, and that these were used to destroy the walls at the side of the well, causing huge rocks to fall down into it. When the family tried to stop the soldiers, they were met with violence and aggression, including towards the women. The soldiers also destroyed the gate to the house, which was now standing at the side, off the hinge. The attack lasted for about 30 minutes, and severe damage was done to the well during this time. Several water pipes were also cut off.

At the time ISM visited the family, they were about to empty the well since they fear that children might fall into it. There used to be an edge preventing this possibility, which was bulldozed down by the soldiers. The family told us that they had just bought and refilled the well with 80 cubic meters of water, to the cost of 2000 shekels, and now they had to see it all going to waste. The incident was the first time they had experienced a military attack of this nature, and even though they fear it will happen again, they have no other choice but to try and rebuild the well.

Army vandalism in Hebron: soldiers destroy family’s well in Wad Lerus

Army vandalism in Hebron: soldiers destroy family’s well in Wad Lerus