Israel Continues to Uproot Hundreds of Olive Trees for Construction of Separation Wall
At 8 am this morning bulldozers arrived at the olive tree fields in the Bethlehem-area village of al-Walaje. They were driven by private contractors and guarded by Israeli soldiers.
The bulldozers blocked the way for everybody, except the members of the three families who own the land. The families could be there, to witness, complain, cry, but nothing else. Dozens of olives trees were uprooted yesterday, just a month before the beginning of the olive harvest season and a week after the Israeli High Court ruled that it was essential for Israel’s security to incarcerate al-Walaje by building the Separation Wall all around it.
“In view of this situation, we believe that the harm caused by the fence’s route to the petitioners is reasonable and proportionate in comparison to the great security value that results from the fence along this route”, the Israeli judges concluded. Now, in order to build the Wall, Israeli forces must uproot hundreds of olive trees, destroying part of the past, the present and the future of the 2,400 village residents.
“They are doing huge environmental damage here”, denounced the Palestinian activist Professor Mazen Qumsiyeh. He arrived after the soldiers and saw how the pile of uprooted olive trees grew over the hours. After midday, the bulldozers kept working and, according to Qumsiyeh, they will continue to do so tomorrow, on Tuesday. Professor Qumsiyeh called for international and Palestinian activists to join them in al-Walaje tomorrow morning to pressure the soldiers to stop this crime.
The last series of uprootings began in June, two months before the aforementioned High Court ruling. At the beginning of June, Jamal Barghouti reported that Israeli soldiers invaded his land and uprooted more than 80 olive trees and some Cypress trees that have given shade to the fields surrounding the Palestinian village for over 70 years.
Every time they come, the Israeli soldiers repeat that they are going to build special gates so the Palestinian farmers can continue to work their fields. Yet Palestinians know better. Reports and personal experiences demonstrate that these gates provide only limited access and with time the farmers and owners that continue to cultivate their land on the other side of the Separation Wall are a dwindling minority.