Nasser Ishtayeh / Associated Press & Catrina Stewart / The Independent & Xinhua News Agency – 2010-10-11 22:25:55
Extremist Jews Attack Palestinian Olive Trees
Nasser Ishtayeh / Associated Press
Iraq Burin, West Bank (October 10, 2010) — Extremist Jews ripped off branches and cut the roots of Palestinian olive trees in the West Bank village of Burin, residents said Saturday, as the yearly harvest of the important crop begins.
The attack came at the beginning of the 45-day Palestinian olive harvest. It’s traditionally a time of heightened violence, as a minority of extremist Jews tries to provoke Palestinians.
Some two dozen men from a nearby Jewish settlement damaged the trees in Burin after they tried to attack Palestinians bulldozing an access road to their fields, said Bilal Eid, who witnessed the incident.
“The settlers began cutting the trees, trying to kill the roots. They are trying to scare us,” Eid said. The damage could kill the trees, which were meant to be harvested this week, he said.
A military spokeswoman said Israeli forces ordered the Jewish intruders to leave. Spokespeople for Jewish settlers did not respond to telephone calls.
The olives are a staple of Palestinian cooking, used for food and oil. Palestinians are sensitive about any damage done to their trees, which can live for hundreds of years. The olive tree is also viewed as a symbol of the Palestinians determination to remain in their homeland.
Collectively, Palestinians own about 15 million olive trees, according to Salah al-Baba of the Palestinian Agricultural Ministry.
Underscoring the trees’ importance, the prime ministers of the rival Palestinian governments both turned up Saturday to be photographed picking the fruit.
Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, donned a baseball cap as he plucked green olives. His rival, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, wrapped a traditional peasant’s scarf around his head and climbed a ladder to pick olives in the West Bank village of Iraq Burin.
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Israeli Settlers ‘Burnt Down West Bank Mosque’
Catrina Stewart / The Independenet
JERUSALEM (October 5, 2010) — Palestinians yesterday accused Jewish settlers of setting fire to a West Bank mosque and scrawling “revenge” in Hebrew on its walls, a provocative move that will heighten tensions amid faltering peace talks.
Vandals broke into the mosque and set it alight early yesterday in Beit Fajjar, a village near Bethlehem. The blaze destroyed several copies of the Koran and prayer rugs. Palestinian witnesses alleged the fire was the work of nearby Jewish settlers, who they saw torching the mosque before speeding off in a white car.
A small and extremist core of settlers has targeted Palestinian property over the past year when they consider that their own interests have been hit by Israeli government actions. The settlers’ campaign is aimed at dissuading the Israeli government from reining in expansion of West Bank Jewish settlements, which are illegal under international law.
The attack, the third such incident in less than a year, comes as Washington ramps up the pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to extend an expired 10-month settlement freeze in the occupied West Bank to try to stop the Palestinians from walking away.
The Palestinians say they cannot remain in the talks as long as construction in disputed territories continues, but Mr Netanyahu says his hands are tied by his pro-settler coalition, which is opposes a further freeze.
The United States is understood to have offered generous inducements, including backing for Israel to station troops along the eastern borders of a future Palestinian state, in return for an additional two-month freeze that would give the two sides time to resolve their differences.
Mr Netanyahu, who has not acknowledged the US offer, merely said yesterday that Israel is engaged in “sensitive diplomatic contacts with the US administration… to find a solution” and called for patience.
Meanwhile, Israeli army officials said they were looking for the individuals responsible for the fire and graffiti, and that they viewed it as a “serious incident”. Settlers are believed to be responsible for at least two other similar incidents at West Bank mosques, but no charges were brought.
Jewish Settlers Vandalize
West Bank Mosque
Xinhua News Agency
RAMALLAH (October 4, 2010) — Jewish settlers in the West Bank set on fire a section of a Muslim mosque near the Palestinian city of Bethlehem, Palestinians said on Monday.
Witnesses said Israeli settlers stormed Al-Anbiaa Mosque in Beit Fujjar area and burnt its rug ground and some books of Muslim’s holy Quran. They also wrote slogans against Palestinians and Islam. Palestinian firefighters have succeeded in stopping the fire from eating up the whole mosque, added the witnesses.
On Thursday, settlers launched a campaign to demolish another mosque in Burin village near Nablus city.
Monday’s incident raises the number of mosques vandalized by the Jewish settlers in the West Bank to three. Meanwhile, Palestinian officials warned of a new wave of violence with religious backgrounds.
About half a million Jewish settlers live among 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank, which Israel has occupied in 1967. Settlements in the occupied land that the Palestinians want as a future state form a key obstacle in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
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