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News :: Human Rights
Olive Trees Uprooted
11 Sep 2007
Palestinians uprooted 150 olive trees near Hebron
Report: Palestinians uprooted 150 olive trees near Hebron
Efrat Weiss YNET Published: 09.10.07, 19:11 / Israel News
www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3448185,00.html

The head of the Mount Hebron Regional Council, Zvika Bar-Hai, filed a
complaint with Israeli Police claiming Palestinians uprooted 150 olive trees
belonging to Jews in the early hours of Monday morning.

According to him, "there is a connection between the uprooting and the
activity carried out by radical left-wing groups in the area, which
encourages the Arab attacks."

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never see this in the mainstream emdia!
11 Sep 2007
We'd never see thi s in the mainstream media!
Heritage uprooted
12 Sep 2007
Universally regarded as the symbol of peace, the olive tree has become the object of violence. For more than forty years, Israel has uprooted over one million olive trees and hundreds of thousands of fruit trees in Palestine with terrible economic and ecological consequences for the Palestinian people. Their willful destruction has so threatened Palestinian culture, heritage and identity that the olive tree has now become the symbol of Palestinian steadfastness because of its own rootedness and ability to survive in a land where water is perennially scarce.

Throughout the centuries, Palestinians farmers have made their living from olive cultivation and olive oil production; 80 percent of cultivated land in the West Bank and Gaza is planted with olive trees. [1] In the West Bank alone, some 100,000 families are dependent on olive sales. [2] Today, the olive harvest provides Palestinian farmers with anywhere between 25 to 50 percent of their annual income, and as the economic crisis deepens, the harvest provides for many their basic means of survival. [3] But despite the hardships, it is the festivities and traditions that accompany the weeks of harvesting that have held Palestinian communities together and are, in fact, a demonstration of their ownership of the land that no occupation can extinguish except by the annihilation of Palestinian society itself.

And that is precisely what Israel has been doing -- through brute force and far more insidious ways. Under an old law from the Ottoman era, Israel claims as state property, land that has been "abandoned" and left uncultivated for a period of four years and this land is then usually allocated to Israeli settlers. Of course, the land has not been voluntarily abandoned. Because of Israel's closure policy, which imposes the most draconian restrictions on movement, Palestinian farmers cannot reach their agricultural lands to tend and harvest their crops. Not only are permits required to move about in their own homeland, but farmers are forced to use alternative routes which must be negotiated on foot or by donkey because about 70 percent of these alternative routes -- those connected to main or bypass roads -- have been closed by the Israeli army with concrete blocks and ditches. And now a wall is being built for "security reasons" which will permanently separate Palestinian families from their farmlands, except for the gates that allow access at certain times, but more often than not, at the whim of Israeli soldiers who may not even turn up to open them. [4] This makes year-round maintenance of farmers' crops extremely difficult if not impossible. Hence, the "abandonment" of land that Israel uses to justify its land theft.

Since 1967, the Israeli military and illegal settlers have destroyed more than one million olive trees claiming that stone throwers and gunmen hide behind them to attack the settlers. [5] This is a specious argument because these trees grow deep inside Palestinian territory where no Israeli settler or soldier should be in any case. But, Israel is intent on appropriating even the last vestiges of land left to the Palestinians and so turns a blind eye to any methods used by settlers and soldiers alike to terrorize the farmers away from their farms and crops, even if that means razing their land. Farmers are constantly under threat of being beaten and shot at, having their water supplies contaminated (already scarce because 85 percent of renewable water resources go to the settlers and Israel), their olive groves torched and their olive trees uprooted. [6]

On a larger scale, the Israeli military brings in the bulldozers to uproot trees in the way of the "security" wall's route and where they impede the development of infrastructure necessary to service the illegal settlements. Some of these threatened trees are 700 to 1,000 years old and are still producing olives. [7] These precious trees are being replaced by roads, sewerage, electricity, running water and telecommunications networks, Israeli military barracks, training areas, industrial estates and factories leading to massive despoliation of the environment. If Israel has its way, neither the trees nor the Palestinians who have cared for them will survive the barbaric ethnic and environmental cleansing of Palestine.

The irony of it all is that Israel's uprooting of olive trees is contrary to the Jewish halakhic principle whose origin is found in the Torah: "Even if you are at war with a city ... you must not destroy its trees" (Deut 20:19). Under the pretext of "redeeming" the land the Jews claim God gave them and the trees they are supposed to preserve, Israel continues to violently expropriate Palestinian land. With each uprooted tree, another slab of concrete is put in place for the wall and the illegal Jewish settlements -- the landscape sculpted and changed beyond all recognition and no longer the sacrosanct place that has long given Israel its spurious Biblical justification for dispossessing the Palestinians of the land they have nurtured since time immemorial.

The agonizing pain of loss felt by Palestinians for their ravaged land is not expressed in the statistics. Only those who have suffered the same cruel violations or those who seek to protect and preserve the delicate balance of the world's environment can understand what it means for people off the land. International law, although on their side, remains ineffective as no world government, not even the United Nations, is prepared to pressure Israel to stop its illegal collective punishment of the entire Palestinian population. Today, there are campaigns all around the world to end the uprooting of trees in Palestine and to replant those which have already been uprooted. And each year, when the Palestinian olive harvest approaches, international volunteers join Palestinians to provide some human protection from the acts of violence visited on Palestinian farmers by Israeli settlers and soldiers who want to stop the harvesting of crops. These wonderful acts of solidarity help to heal the land, but they cannot heal the pain of those who have to watch the uprooting of age-old olive trees, the desecration of their land and their millennia-old heritage. Such heartbreaking reality has led the Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish, to say, "If the olive trees knew the hands that planted them, their oil would have become tears ..."

Sonja Karkar is the founder and president of Women for Palestine in Melbourne, Australia.


Endnotes
[1] UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affiars, "The Olive Harvest in the West Bank and Gaza," October 2006.
[2] Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem (ARIJ), "Olive Harvest in Palestine. Another Season, Another Anguish," November 2004.
[3] Canaan Fair Trade, www.olivecoop.com/Canaan.html.
[4] OXFAM, "Forgotten Villages: Struggling to survive under closure in the West Bank," September 2002, p. 21.
[5] ARIJ, "Olive Harvest in Palestine. Another Season, Another Anguish," November 2004.
[6] UN Report of the Special Committee to investigate Israeli Practices affecting the Human Rights of the Palestinian People and other Arabs of the Occupied Territories, No. 40, September 2005.
[7] Atyaf Alwazir, "Uprooting Olive trees in Palestine," Inventory of Conflict and Environment (ICE), Case Number: 110, American University, November 2002.
See also:
http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article8970.shtml
Olive Trees in a time of war
20 Sep 2007
There is a current and perennial fight that happens every year in Israel, and if you don't know the facts, you may be lulled into the idea that it is simply an agricultural dispute. It goes way beyond agriculture. The annual "olive tree problem" is a significant issue, not just in the rural areas of Israel, especially in Samaria, but for every person who cares about the future of Israel.

Please don't believe the claims of clueless television reporters and bleeding-heart left-wing people. It is not a case of "those settlers" destroying the olive trees in a mean-spirited attempt to make the "poor Palestinian people" go without an income or food or a job. Anyone who believes those reports has not only bitten at the bait of the Arabs, but has swallowed it hook, line and sinker. The war of the olive trees is not about olive trees at all. It's about land and safety.

The olive branch may be an ancient symbol of peace, but today, it is more a symbol of an unchecked Arab land grab. This is how it works. An Arab comes upon an old olive tree near a settlement. The tree, they know, is evidence of how long someone has lived in a place and who owns the land. Most older trees near settlements were planted by Jews, but some of the younger trees may have sprung up from an olive that rolled down a hill.

A lot of people, when picturing this scene, think the olives trees are growing in carefully defined orchards in nice straight lines, but most are not. In fact, unless you know what an olive tree looks like, you might think it was part of the scrub that dots the land of Samaria.

A lot of the trees were planted just outside of small Jewish towns in Samaria in order to define the boundaries of the settlement areas, but some trees are much older - and have been passed down from family member to family member for generations. If you don't believe the Torah, or the thousands of architectural landmarks that dot the "territories" of Israel as places of constant Jewish habitation, you can turn to these living testaments of family ownership of the land - a fact that has not escaped the notice of the Arab population.

Some trees are marked in to show who owns them, but in many areas it is just a matter of local knowledge who owns the tree - after all, it is on that person's land, or in their back yard, or it is on the block of land where their grandparents used to live. This doesn't matter to the Arabs, though.

The Arabs are intent upon proving they own the land, even though they do not. They will mark every small stick of olive tree that pokes from the ground, and they will mark the trees that are the ownership of others, as well. If the tree is marked, they destroy or erase the mark. Slowly, they attempt to mark every tree near a settlement in an effort to show that the trees belong to them. The closer the trees are, the better, because those trees can be allowed to grow large and bushy, providing perfect cover for terrorist activity against the Jewish population.

Then, claiming the "orchard" is theirs, the Arabs use the stolen and newly marked olive trees as an excuse to inch close to Jewish neighborhoods where they begin the surveillance for terrorist actions. With easily duped Westerners and soft-hearted ignorant Israeli college students as their accomplices, the Arabs make harvests of terror, reaping Jewish lives and security along with their stolen olives.

They also use these "orchards" to claim ownership of land blocks in strategic areas near Jewish communities. If you have ever been to Samaria, you will see that the Jews live on the hilltops, and the Arabs live in the valleys. It seems strange, at first. After all, the Jews are leaving all the fertile, green land for the Arabs to farm, while they struggle to make rocky and thorn-filled hillsides bloom. But when you realize that the Jews are there to protect Israel, you understand.

Those who live in Samaria chose to live on the hilltops from where Arabs could launch rockets at large cities like Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. When you understand this, you understand why these so-called "innocent" Arabs from the fertile river valleys would trudge up a rocky hillside to claim an olive tree next to a Jewish home on a hillside. They don't want olives, they want Jewish lives.

After they establish "ownership" of their stolen olive trees, they claim the land for their own. Next, they put simple stone structures there, then homes and then they build a settlement. The closer they can get to a Jewish population, the better. After all, the Jews are no threat to them, but they are a great threat to the Jews.

It is strange that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, President George Bush and the UN are screaming about "illegal outposts", but never seem to see the huge explosion of Arab homes, communities and mosques suddenly growing up hillsides near Jewish neighborhoods - all foreshadowed by the stealing of olive trees.

This is why, when I hear that the "settlers are destroying the Palestinian's olive trees," or that the "settlers are throwing rocks at the poor Palestinians who are trying to harvest their olives," I shake my head in disbelief and anger that any news agency would listen to this fiction and believe it.

But, I guess if someone is sitting in an office in downtown Tel Aviv or New York or Chicago, and has never seen an olive tree in Samaria, he might not understand the significance of an olive tree, and he might think that this is just a petty squabble between neighbors. But it's not. It's deadly serious business.

When I hear that the people of Elon Moreh or Itamar or Kedumim have destroyed olive trees, I know they have done it out of desperation. It says in Torah that we cannot destroy a fruit tree. These are religious people. The only reason they would go against a Torah prohibition is to protect life. I know that when they choose to destroy an olive tree it is to protect the lives of Jews in those towns. This is not about preventing an olive harvest, it is about preventing a harvest of terror.

So, the next time you are approached by a well-meaning soul who wants to help "rebuild Palestinian olive orchards" in the name of "peace", or you hear of a mixed up group of people like the Kibbutz Movement thinking that planting olive trees for Arabs is a good thing, please pass on this lesson. I hope they may be educated into understanding what a dangerous thing they are doing. But, if they don't get the message, we can still offer them an olive branch, just to be sure.
Death to colonialism
20 Sep 2007
>They also use these "orchards" to claim ownership of land blocks in strategic areas near Jewish communities.

Translation:

They resist colonialist settlement on their land. Good for them. My victory be theirs. There is no place for colonialism in this world. Colonists go home or die. The suitcase or the coffin. Take your pick.
Thats the point, its not....
20 Sep 2007
Thats the point, its not and has NEVER been "Palestinian" land. The Arabs only claim to the land of Israel is the legacy of Muslim imperialist conquest of Jewish Land. Thats why its called "Judea", "land ofthe Jews", its why the Arabs have distorted Hebrew names for their villages, its why the archeology is ALL Jewish artifacts. .
pot/kettle/black
21 Sep 2007
>The Arabs only claim to the land of Israel is the legacy of Muslim imperialist conquest of Jewish Land.


The Zionists only claim to the land of Canaan is the legacy of Israelite imperialist conquest of Canaanite land.
Then lets re-do the Bronze Age
21 Sep 2007
Then lets re-do the Bronze Age. Its a silly distraction to bring up the Canaanites from 3500 years ago. Of course its away of avoiding addressing the question,"Is the Arab claim based on anything more than that of the descendants of the Muslim imperialist conquerors ?" Of course not, that all it is.
"Is the Arab claim based on anything more than that of the descendants of the Muslim imperialist conquerors ?"
21 Sep 2007
The Arab claim to their homes and farms is that they live there, or they did till they were ethnically clensed by Zionist terrorists.

What anybody's ancestors did is irrelevant. This isn't about ancestors. This is about living people. Only racists care who your ancestors are. The rest of us only care how you act. Zionists act like Nazis, only better armed.
Presume that if Nessie says it...
26 Sep 2007
Uh, Nessie, thats another of the great myths of the Palestinians. The vast majority of the "Palestinians" were immigrants from other Arab countries that did not own land but were share croppers, renters whose land lords sold the land to Jews. Now they pridefully tell their children (grand children who have never stepped foot there) tall tales abnout "having worked "our" land for generations and show then a rusty key that they bought in the shuk for 3 shekels. If they had actual title to any of theland they would already have a case in court with an Israeli attoreny. Besides that, simply owning a piece of land DOES NOT convey poitical soveriegnty. If a Mexican guy owns land just over the US border from Mexico, the border doesn't shift does it?