Israeli settlers cut down 20 Palestinian olive trees in Masafer Yatta raid
The settlers raided Palestinian property, cutting down 20 or more olive trees, Protection and Steadfastness Committees in Masafer Yatta coordinator Fouad Al-Amour said. Olive trees have great financial and cultural meaning for Palestinians and are often targeted by Israeli settlers.
The incursion falls within a pattern of ongoing assaults by Israeli forces and settlers against Masafer Yatta, Al-Amour said.
It comes as an Israeli Supreme Court decision this month opened the door for over 1,000 Palestinians there to be expelled from their homes.
Around 20 structures – including homes and barns – were levelled by Israel on Wednesday last week.
The Israeli army considers Masafer Yatta, an area near the city of Hebron comprised of 12 Palestinian villages, to be a firing zone.
The Israeli Supreme Court deems that Palestinians were not permanent residents of the area in the 1980s, the time when the army claimed the area as a firing zone. Locals and Israeli human rights organisations dispute this.
They maintain that there were Palestinians permanently living in Masafer Yatta prior even to 1967, when Israel began its illegal occupation of the West Bank, and view any expulsions as violating international law.