Israel uprooted approximately 1,000 almond and olive trees that were planted illegally in a land grab on the western edge of Gush Etzion on Thursday, an action that Arabs are calling a “war crime” and even a human rights violation.”
The office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) stated:
[We] carried out the eviction of an illegal invasion of around 1,000 olive trees planted illegally without permits on state land in Wadi Fukin.
The area is located between the security fence and the Hareidi city of Beitar Illit, west of Efrat.
The Palestinian Authority’s official WAFA website claimed that the land is owned by Arabs.
The London Independent reported:
Palestinians have accused Israel of a war crime after military tractors destroyed around a thousand olive and almond trees belonging to local farmers on the grounds that they were illegally planted on state land….. Three years ago, Israeli authorities posted signs saying that the land belongs to the state, farmers said.
Wasel Abu Yusuf, a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, told the newspaper: This is occupied territory and international humanitarian law and the Geneva Convention apply. This is the land of the Palestinian state and any colonialist settler building or expropriation of land or cutting trees is a war crime against the Palestinian people.
If they are going to claim it is a “war came,” why not go even farther and charge Israel with violating human rights?
That may sound absurd, but read what an unidentified journalist, whom we can assume to be Al Quds correspondent Sayid Erikat, told the State Dept. at yesterday’s daily briefing:
Yesterday the Israelis pulled out something like 1,800 trees in the West Bank; they uprooted trees and so on. I mean, we talked about the commission of inquiry and human rights abuses and so on. Is that something that you would like to see the Israelis stop doing?
State Dept. spokesman John Kirby answered, “I haven’t seen the report on the trees being uprooted. You’re going to have to let me go back and look at that. I just don’t have anything on that.
What is amazing is that there was no laughter from Kirby or fellow journalists.