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Settlers start fires across the West Bank

July 22, 2011 10:14 A.M. (Updated: July 24, 2011 9:19 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Palestinian firefighters have been battling blazes across the West Bank as Israeli settlers set fire to land in multiple locations on Thursday night.

Reports earlier on Friday said that settlers had torched agricultural fields near the village of Burin in the West Bank city of Nablus.

“Some settlers from the Yizhar settlement adjacent to the village set fire to the area south of the village and fled the scene,” Head of Burin village council Ali Ead told Ma'an.

Hundreds of residents in the village arrived at the scene and helped extinguish the fire, which took firemen seven hours to control and destroyed 200 trees around Kufr Kalil.

Reports also emerged that fires had been started by settlers in the districts of Nablus, Salfit, Tulkarem and north of Jerusalem.

After nine hours, firefighters finally managed to extinguish a blaze started by settlers in Al-Badhan village, north of Nablus, which destroyed 150 dunams of land and olive trees, the Palestinian Civil Defense said Friday.

Fires in other West Bank districts also reportedly destroyed hundreds of dunams of Palestinian land.

Residents in the village of Burin near Nablus had helped extinguish a fire set by settlers on Friday as 5,000 trees and 150 olive trees were destroyed.

Firefighters also rushed to a blaze in the village of Beit Iksa, north of Jerusalem after receiving information that Israeli soldiers had uprooted olive trees.

Fires were also put out in Salfit, after breaking out on 150 dunams of grass and destroying 90 olive trees.

In the Tulkarem district, fires destroyed at least 100 olive trees in an area between the villages of Izbat Shofa and Bala.

The latest attacks by settlers come amid a string of violent incidents in the occupied West Bank.

On Monday, settlers attacked a group of international observers near Hebron, the fifth such case of settler violence against internationals in the area over the last 30 days.

Also on Monday, settlers attacked three Palestinian shepherds near Jerusalem, causing serious injuries.

On Friday July 15, Israeli settlers from the illegal settlement of Yizhar set fire to Palestinian land near the village of Burin, south of Nablus.

Two days earlier, a Palestinian teenager sustained bruises after Israeli settlers pelted his car with stones near the site of the former Israeli settlement of Homesh, which was evacuated in 2005.

According to the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Hague Regulations, the International Court of Justice, and several United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements and outposts in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are illegal.

A report by the Palestinian Authority found that settler violence increased "dramatically" in June 2011, documenting 139 attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank and the destruction of over 3,600 olive trees and vineyards.

An Israeli army general recently warned that unchecked settler "terror" against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank threatens to plunge the territory into conflict, reports said.
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