Hundreds of olive trees and vines were found destroyed on Sunday on land belonging to five different villages in the West Bank, reported Haaretz, citing Palestinians and Israeli human rights groups.
According to the paper, "in at least four of these cases, the trees were in plots Palestinians can only harvest under army supervision due to the plots' proximity to settlements or outposts from which Israelis have attacked Palestinian farmers".
Some 100 uprooted trees were discovered in the village of Mreir, 25 trees were damaged in Deir Nidham, and 59 trees were destroyed in Tal. In addition, 60 trees were damaged on land belonging to Far'ata, while in Al-Khader, south of Bethlehem, 370 vines and 30 olive trees were uprooted.
Haaretz noted that "in the last two months, ahead of the olive harvest, there has been an increase in the number of trees deliberately damaged."
"In Brukhin (in the Salfit area) dozens of trees were found uprooted on October 9. In Turmous Ayya (near Mreir, close to outposts such as Esh Kodesh and Adei Ad) other destroyed trees were discovered on Saturday, in addition to earlier incidents which occurred on October 3 and 7."
Israeli rights group Yesh Din reported on Saturday that "just like every year, this olive harvest season is characterised by the police and army abusing their mission, not preparing for the prevention of destruction of trees and theft of olives. All these incidents occurred in areas that are notorious for this conduct, where security services are aware of the delicate situation."
Yesh Din notes that "the methods used for destroying trees are diverse, including chopping down with a saw; poisoning by drilling holes in the trunk; and burning or breakage of fruit-bearing branches."
The group added that "the sawing and chopping down of mature trees require logistical planning and mechanical equipment such as chain saws, which are very noisy. Very old trees require many hours of sawing by several people".