Illegal Israeli settlers yesterday destroyed 40 olive tree saplings belonging to a Palestinian resident of the village of Hajja, near the occupied West Bank city of Qalqilya, Wafa has reported. The local resident, who pointed out that settlers have stolen olive trees from him on previous occasions, added that settler attacks against Palestinians and their properties in the occupied West Bank are escalating.
Over 700,000 Israelis live in Jew-only settlements across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem in violation of international law. All of Israel's settlements and the settlers who live there are illegal under the law.
Settler violence against Palestinians and their property is routine in the occupied West Bank and is rarely sanctioned by the Israeli authorities. Palestinians, local and international monitors and officials believe that the Israeli government endorses settler violence. Indeed, settlers are usually protected by Israeli police and soldiers even as they commit their crimes. The situation is likely to get much worse with the presence of extreme far-right politicians in the new coalition government.
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The olive harvest is the main source of income for thousands of Palestinian households. Israeli settlers have been responsible for destroying thousands of olive trees in the occupied territories over the years, primarily around harvest season to maximise the damage and effect on the owners.
Olive trees are symbolic of the Palestinian attachment to their land. Drought-resistant, growing in poor soil conditions, and living and bearing fruit for hundreds — even thousands — of years, the trees represent Palestinian resistance and resilience in the face of the brutal Israeli military occupation.