October 13, 2010
Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman, said that the damages and theft of olives were "not a phenomenon" that was widespread and that there had been similar complaints by settlers reporting property damage by Palestinians. He said that investigations had been opened and several suspects questioned and released, but that no one had been charged.
Often in vulnerable, rural areas where Israeli settlers can attack with little fear of being caught or stopped, Palestinian civilians fall prey to settler attacks more in this period.
But when we look into attacks on the crops and trees themselves, we see that this is not limited only to the period of the harvest. In fact, when look at our data which covered 18 months from Jan. 2009 to Aug. 2010, only about 30% of attacks on olive trees and groves occur during the harvest (late Sept to early Nov).
The rest of the attacks are distributed across the remainder of the year with a remarkable concentration in June and July, when 40% of attacks occur. Approximately 10% of all acts of settler violence captured in our database are against the olive trees and occasionally other forms of agriculture.
With over 100 attacks on trees in an 18 month period, this comes out to an average of approximately 5.5 attacks on trees per month.
On June 22rd, 2009, as the sun was coming up, Israeli Settlers from the Bat Ayin settlement set fire to land belonging to the village of Beit Ummar that was filled with fruit bearing trees. They also cut an additional 150 trees. This was one of three different settler attacks that day.
Settler violence prevents Palestinians from reaching significant portions of their most important agricultural product, and continues to be a threat to Palestinian civilians on each and every day of their lives.