B’Tselem: 1,000 Olive Trees Uprooted to Build Bypass Road

Seventy-year old Palestinian farmer Abbas Youssef points towards his olive trees. (Photo: via Ma'an)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, said on February 1, 2017 that the Israeli occupation authorities began on Sunday, January 15, 2017 uprooting olive trees and leveling land near the Palestinian villages of ‘Azzun and a-Nabi Elyas in Qalqilya District, under the supervision of Civil Administration (CA) personnel.

“This work is being carried out as part of the decision made by the military and the CA to build a bypass road to replace the section of Route 55 that runs through a-Nabi Elyas. Route 55 originally served as the main link between Nablus and Qalqilya and was one of the major traffic arteries in the West Bank. Over time, as settlements expanded, it also became essential to settlers, as it connects several large settlements with Israel’s coastal plains and central region,” B’Tselem said.

B’Tselem noted that “the seizure of the land and uprooting of olive trees have severely harmed the landowners, who have lost a source of income and a major financial asset, as well as an open space that served all local residents for leisure and recreational activities.”

B’Tselem quoted Hussni Abu Haniyeh, 69, a married father of seven and resident of ‘Azzun as saying,

“At the end of 2015, the Israeli authorities decided to build a bypass road across our land. At the end of 2016, our petition was denied. Now, on 15 January 2017, Israeli bulldozers started razing the olive trees and working on the ground. They uprooted 26 olive trees from my plot, including three ancient trees. The others are fifty or sixty years old. Ten of the trees were replanted along a strip of land by the road, and I hope they come back to life. I lost something that was very dear to me. Whenever I encountered any difficulty in life, I would go to my land to sit and think, away from the troubles of daily life.”

B’Tselem concluded by saying, “While Israel professes to act for the benefit the occupied population, its policies routinely ignore this population’s needs. One example is the prohibition on construction and development in Area C along with incessant demolition of homes there, which peaked in 2016. These practices are based on the conception of Area C – which encompasses most of the West Bank – as an area to be used for Israeli interests only. These facts, when taken together with false statements about seizing Palestinian land “for the public good” and pressure from the settler lobby, attest yet again to Israel’s policy and aims, which all arms of the state – the planning authorities, the Civil Administration, the settlers, the government, and the HCJ – are working in conjunction to achieve.”


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