Extremist Israeli settlers have attacked Palestinian farmlands in the central part of the occupied West Bank, uprooting more than 300 olive trees at the height of the olive harvest.
Palestinian farmers from al-Mazraa al-Garbieh village, located north of the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, were shocked on Thursday by the sight of their devastated olive groves on land near the illegal Israeli settlement of Kerem Reim.
Saadeh Zaqout, head of the village council, told the official Palestinian Authority news agency WAFA that Israeli forces and settlers have placed an iron gate and cement blocks on the road to prevent Palestinian farmers from accessing their lands and harvesting the olive trees.
Olives are an important source of income for Palestinian farmers. The olive harvest season, which lasts between October and November, is a lifeline for 80,000 to 100,000 Palestinian families in the West Bank.
According to the United Nations, nearly half of Palestinian agricultural land in the West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip is planted with an estimated 10 million olive trees.
Settlers repeatedly target the crops, setting fire to trees and contaminating the plants.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that between August 2020 and August 2021, more than 9,300 olive trees belonging to Palestinian farmers were damaged, cut down, or uprooted by Israeli settlers.
Meanwhile, rights group B’Tselem reported that 1,500 trees have been uprooted or damaged since the beginning of the harvest season alone.
Palestinian farmers reportedly suffered a 55 percent drop in olive crop yields between 2019 and 2020.
Most of the international community considers Israeli settlement construction illegal under international law and an obstacle to the so-called two-state solution to the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
More than 600,000 Israelis live in over 230 illegal settlements built since the occupation of Palestinian territories in the West Bank and eastern al-Quds in 1967.
The UN Security Council has issued several resolutions condemning the Tel Aviv regime’s settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.