” The human rights organization Yesh Din today [21/10] publishes updated data highlighting the failure of the Samaria & Judea (SJ) District Police to investigate incidents involving the cutting down, torching, vandalization, and theft of olive trees and other fruits trees belonging to Palestinians in the West Bank. The data are published against the background of the current olive harvest, and after numerous incidents of the vandalization of trees have been reported throughout the West Bank in recent weeks.
The updated figures show that the Israel Police has overwhelmingly failed to investigate the incidents and prosecute offenders. In recent years, the vandalization of olive trees and other fruit trees has become one of the symbols of the occupation. The data are presented on a map, revealing areas of friction in which a particularly large number of incidents involving the vandalization of trees has been reported. The army and the police are well aware of these areas, which form the focus of criminal activities by Israeli civilians against Palestinians and their property throughout the year. The Palestinian village that has suffered the largest number of attacks on trees is Burin. Yesterday a vicious attack on olive harvesters and volunteers from Rabbis for Human Rights by masked men armed with batons was again documented in the village. Two Palestinians and two Israelis were injured in the attack.
From 2005 through June 2013, Yesh Din documented 211 incidents of deliberate damage to fruit trees in the West Bank following which the police opened investigative files. Of the 211 investigative files opened by the S&J District Police, only four ended in indictments; 183 files were closed in circumstances testifying to investigative failure – no less than 94.7 percent of the files in which processing has been completed and the outcome is known to Yesh Din. The failure rate of the S&J District Police in investigating attacks on trees is particularly high, even by comparison to the general failure rate for investigations by the S&J District Police into offenses by Israelis against Palestinians and their property in the West Bank, which stands at 84 percent. The figures show that with regard to attacks on Palestinians’ trees, the ability of the S&J District Police to locate and prosecute offenders is particularly low and almost non-existent.
The vandalization of olive trees and other trees belonging to Palestinians constitutes a serious attack on their property and directly damages their wellbeing, since many Palestinian residents in the West Bank rely on agriculture – and particularly the olive industry – as a significant source of income. This industry provides income and employment for some 100,000 households.
Noah Cohen of Yesh Din’s Research Department comments on the figures: “As the statistics show, and as was again proven only yesterday, the areas of friction are well known. Nevertheless the IDF leaves the Palestinian residents in these areas exposed to repeated violent attacks. The implication of the ongoing failure of the S&J District Police to investigate and prosecute persons who vandalize trees is equally apparent: The complete abnegation of responsibility, and the abandonment of these areas to the control of violent and extremist elements.”
Data sheet can be read here,
Video posted in the comment section below.