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Israel: court orders soldiers to uproot olive trees stolen by settlers

February 15, 2023 at 3:24 pm

Israel considers to turn into Jewish settlement at the village of Burin near the West Bank city of Nablus, 04 February 2022 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

An olive grove farmed by illegal settlers Chen Ben Eliyahu and Meshek Achiyah near the settlement of Shilo between Nablus and Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank was uprooted by Israeli soldiers this morning, despite protesters tying themselves to the trees to prevent the trees being pulled down. Israeli forces arrived at the site with bulldozers to proceed with the evacuation of the olive grove.

However, following pressure from far-right ministers, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the soldiers to stop the operation temporarily, just hours after it began. The soldiers moved in after the Israeli High Court accepted a petition in 2021 from Palestinians who owned the land and ordered the uprooting of the olive grove’s 42 acres. The state is providing Ben Eliyahu and Achiyah with alternative farming sites.

According to Haaretz, in May 2021 High Court judges ordered the Civil Administration to vacate the plots by 1 October of that year. However, the state requested the postponement of the eviction in September, after which the state petitioned the court again to delay the ruling until this month, and this was agreed upon.

READ: Israel Forces to uproot 100 trees belonging to Palestinian farmer in Masafer Yatta

Limor Son Har-Melech MK of Otzma Yehudit, the party headed by far-right extremist Itamar Ben-Gvir, and Religious Zionist MK Zvi Sukkot visited the site at the time of the demolition to prevent damage. Son Har-Melech criticised the Israeli High Court’s decision. “This is a shameful, anti-Zionist and anti-moral destruction that is being carried out following a High Court ruling based on a ‘disruptive use order’, a draconian order that is applied only against Jews,” she said.

The Palestine National Information Centre revealed earlier this month that Israeli occupation settlers and forces committed 3,532 violations against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem in January. The centre said that January was the bloodiest month in the occupied West Bank since 2015, citing the Israeli killings of 35 Palestinians, including eight children and a 61-year-old woman, with 20 killed in Jenin alone.