Israeli authorities continue to uproot Palestinian-owned olive trees in order to build a road for nearby settlers.
Photos by Keren Manor / Activestills, text by Yael Marom
Israeli authorities uprooted dozens of olive trees in order to build a settler road near the West Bank city of Qalqilya on Monday morning.
The Israeli army declared the area a closed military zone after the landowners, along with a number of Israeli activists, arrived in the area to protest and try to nonviolently stop the uprooting. Three of the demonstrators were arrested.
Israeli bulldozers accompanied by workers and private security personnel arrived at the village of Izbat Tabib in the early hours of the morning in order to uproot the trees, which belong to Palestinians in the area, and to pave the “Nabi Elias Bypass Road.” Approximately 700 olive trees are slated to be uprooted; last week authorities removed a total of 250 trees.
Shortly after the uprooting, the Israeli army was called to the area in order to prevent the activists from demonstrating. After declaring a closed military zone, the Israeli activists were removed from the area, while the Palestinian landowners were allowed to remain. The head of Izbat Tabib’s local council and another activist declared that they would refuse to leave and sat on an olive tree. The two were detained and later released. An Israeli activist was arrested was likely transferred to an Israeli police station in the settlement of Ariel.
On Sunday Civil Administration contractors came to survey the land to ask the locals where they would like their trees to be moved to. The residents responded that there was nowhere to move them to. On Monday, the majority of the uprooted trees were left in a giant pile.
The decision to build the settler road was made as part of a compromise with the Yesha Council, the umbrella organization that governs Jewish settlements in the West Bank. According to the text on the expropriation orders, paving the road is intended to “improve transportation between Nablus and Qalqilya.”
The Palestinian landowners previously unsuccessfully petitioned the High Court against the plan. According to the head of Nabi Elias’ village council Raed Khalif, those who will be able to prove ownership over the land will receive meager compensation for the property they lost — which makes up an essential part of their livelihood.