Israeli authorities yesterday uprooted and chopped down more than a dozen olive trees in one area of the central occupied West Bank Salfit district, while Israeli settlers used bulldozers to level land in another area of the district, according to reports from locals.
Director of the Ministry of Agriculture’s office in Salfit Ibrahim Al-Hamad told Ma’an that Israeli authorities uprooted 15 olive trees and chopped down three others in the Al-Zibaq area of Deir Ballut village in western Salfit.
According to Al-Hamad, the destruction was part of ongoing land works for a project to build a water pipeline in the area, meant to serve illegal Israeli settlements built on the private Palestinian lands of Deir Ballut.
The trees in question were more than 40-year-old trees, he added, highlighting that more trees are expected to be cut down as bulldozers remained in the area and continued to work on the pipeline.
Separately, Israeli settlers levelled privately-owned Palestinian lands north of the Kafr Al-Dik village in Salfit.
Witnesses told Ma’an that they saw bulldozers escorted by settlers from the nearby illegal Leishim settlement level agricultural lands and pastures in preparation to expand the settlement, highlighting that the archeological site of the Church of Saint Simeon Stylites, known to locals as Deir Samaan, was “harmed” in the incident.
Local farmer Mahmoud Al-Dik expressed frustrations over settlement activity in the area, saying that settlers “have started to take control of the whole area north of Kafr Al-Dik,” with bypass roads constructed for settlers “swallowing Palestinian lands”.
Last week, Israeli forces uprooted 150 olive trees without prior notice in the Wadi Qana valley in Salfit-area village of Deir Istiya, with an Israeli spokesperson saying at the time that the trees were “illegally planted”.