Dozens of Palestinian olive trees were flooded with sewage water from a nearby Israeli colony today, in Deir Al-Hatab town, east of the northern West Bank city of Nablus.
Earlier this month local sources reported Israelis attacking Palestinian farmers from a village in the Nablus area and on 13 October settlers near the settlement of Itamar were found stealing olives from a Palestinian grove owned by farmers from the village of Awarta.
The ancient olive trade is one of the many Palestinian industries that routinely come under attack from settlers. While assault by extremist Israeli settlers are frequent, including uprooting olive trees, burning Palestinian lands and flooding crops with wastewater, there has been a marked escalation in violence against Palestinians over the years.
In this instance, the olive trees died after Israeli occupation forces blocked Palestinian farmers from attending to their olive crops for months while they were drowning under toxic sewage running down from the nearby Elon Moreh settlement.
Rabbis for Human Rights, who run regular projects with Palestinian farmers in the West Bank, said that only a few months ago they worked in the same area and the trees were healthy. MEMO spoke to the Rabbis who are helping to harvest olives in the area today. They complained that they had raised the issue with the Israeli authorities, including the military, but their warnings about the sewage water made no difference.
Rabbi Yehiel Grenimann explained that Palestinian farmers had been barred for up to a year from their olive trees which inevitably led to them dying. In many instances Palestinian owners of the olive orchards have been isolated from the trees, and are only allowed to reach them twice a year through special permits and coordination.
Settlers also have a habit of picking the olive trees in the area and stealing the produce, especially since they have unrestricted access to the orchards.
Rabbi Grenimann condemned the ongoing Israeli occupation as "sacrilegious" while speaking about the 150 Rabbis in the organisation who he described as striving to uphold the values and principals of Judaism and human rights that are dedicated to exposing the abuse and mistreatment of Palestinians by Israeli occupying forces.