Israeli soldiers teargas Palestinian farmers

A Palestinian man confronts an Israeli soldier after they destroyed a water reservoir used by Palestinian farmers in the West Bank city of Hebron on 14 June 2011. (Photo: AP – Nasser Shiyoukhi)

Israeli soldiers fired teargas to force Palestinian farmers to abandon their orchards near Hebron on Saturday, according to medics cited by the International Middle East Media Center.

Several farmers had to be treated by field medics after inhaling the fumes as they were picking their olive trees.

The IMEMC cites a Palestinian Red Crescent official, Abdul-Halim al-Jaafra, who said over 50 farmers were forced to flee after the army ordered farmers and residents to leave the orchard located near the illegal Adora Israeli settlement, west of Hebron.

Settlers and soldiers routinely destroy Palestinian olive orchards, often using tractors to uproot their main source of livelihood.

On Friday, settlers uprooted 100 newly-planted olive saplings and at least 60 vine trees on private Palestinian land in Al-Khader village near Bethlehem.

The coordinator of the local anti-wall committee, Ahmad Salah, said he noticed the vandalism while he was on a regular tour monitoring the town’s fields on Friday.

He approached a field belonging to Abdul-Hakim Salah in an area known locally as Mustasi or Wadi al-Shami, near the illegal Israeli settlement of Newe Daniyyel, to find out that more than 100 saplings had been cut from the root or ripped from the ground.

He added that when he entered an adjacent grape field, he discovered that more fruit trees were also cut down.

“This vandalism is clear evidence that settlers are devoid of any human characteristic. They attack every Palestinian property including trees and stones.”

Since 1967, 800,000 olive trees have been uprooted by Israeli forces, resulting in a loss of around $55 million to the Palestinian economy, according to a report by the Palestinian Authority Ministry of National Economy and the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem.

(Ma’an, Al-Akhbar)

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