"Jewish settlers set ablaze olive trees in West Bank
July 20, 2009
NABLUS, West Bank — Jewish settlers set ablaze hundreds of olive trees near Nablus in the occupied West Bank on Monday after a wildcat settlement was removed, Israeli and Palestinian sources said.
Ali Eid of the municipal council of the Palestinian village of Burin told AFP that around 350 olive trees were burnt down.
Around 20 angry settlers blocked traffic on a road near the Israeli army checkpoint in Hawara, just outside Nablus, and stoned Palestinian cars, said an AFP photographer whose camera they also tried to seize.
An Israeli border guard spokesman said the unrest broke out after a settlers’ caravan was removed, triggering incidents during which one settler was arrested but no injuries were reported.
According to an Israeli human rights group, Yesh Din, the settlers were reacting to the evacuation with a policy which they have termed the “price tag” phenomenon.
“Jewish settlers set fire to olive groves in the West Bank village of Burin and engaged in violence on Howara Road,” it said.
“When a settlement, outpost or structure is under threat of evacuation by the Israeli military, settlers implement an emergency violence response including setting fire to crops, attacking villages and people and damaging property in order to draw military energy away from the scheduled evacuation.
“As well, the goal of this practice is to create a price for each evacuation, causing Israeli authorities to think twice about carrying them out,” it said.
Israel has pledged to dismantle outposts set up after March 2003, considering them to be unauthorised.
The international community considers all established settlements and the more than 100 so-called outposts illegal, while the Palestinians say the settlements are the main obstacle to US-backed Middle East peace talks.