On Monday, most Israelis will celebrate Tu Bishvat by cherishing the fruit of the land and planting plant trees.
But in the West Bank, extremist settlers routinely destroy trees belonging to Palestinian farmers - not to mention other forms of vandalism and assault.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 11,254 trees have been vandalized in the West Bank in 2015, a 20% increase over the previous year. It is bitterly ironic that many of the trees these cowards choose to uproot or vandalize are olive trees - the very symbol of peace.
The extremist settlers who axe the trees and uproot the saplings do it because they know how much olive trees mean to the Palestinians, and how important fruit orchards are to the Palestinians’ livelihood. And, of course, these cowards don’t stop at trees. They burn and vandalize Palestinian mosques and homes, they brutalize Palestinians, and sometimes even kill them, as we have recently seen in the West Bank village of Duma, where an entire family was murdered in an arson attack.
This so-called “Price Tag” campaign is the extremist settlers’ perverted, premeditated method to provoke and antagonize the Palestinians in order to escalate the conflict and distract Israel’s law enforcement authorities, who are already stretched beyond capacity in their effort to confront the current wave of atrocious Palestinian violence.
The video below is one of many taken by Hagit Ofran as part of her work for Peace Now’s Settlement Watch, which she directs. Hagit and her colleagues document settlement activity in the West Bank, as well as settler violence such as this.
Americans for Peace Now is the chief single funder of Israel’s Peace Now movement. Here, in the United States, APN advocates for pro-Israel, pro-peace policies and fights for a progressive, democratic Israel, true to the vision of its founders, based on Jewish values of peace and justice.
Help us confront those who sow hatred and conflict, who uproot trees, torch and vandalize Palestinian mosques and homes, and steal Palestinian land.