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PA: Settlers damage land in northern West Bank

Oct. 9, 2011 11:38 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 10, 2011 4:09 P.M.)
NABLUS (Ma’an) -- Settlers caused damage several Palestinian villages' land in the Qalqiliya and Nablus districts on Sunday, an official said.

Palestinian Authority settlement affairs official Ghassan Doughlas told Ma'an that farmers from Farata village, east of Qalqiliya had arrived at their land to find that olives had been stolen.

Israeli forces arrived at the scene and demanded that all villagers return to their homes.

Soldiers were meant to coordinate a safe passage from settler attacks for villagers to pick olives but canceled due to a shortage in numbers, the official said.

Settlers “are escalating their attacks against Palestinians, under the protection of Israeli soldiers who are no longer controlling the situation,” the official news agency Wafa quoted Doughlas as saying.

In Nablus, dozens of Itamar settlers threw rocks at farmers who were trying to pick olives in the village of Awarta and stole harvest equipment, Doughlas said.

Meanwhile in Yanun village, in the valley overlooked by Jewish-only settlement Itamar, dozens of settlers attacked farmers and blocked them from their lands to harvest olives, he said, adding that Israeli army coordination to protect farmers has been postponed until Oct. 21.

To the east of Nablus, settlers from Elon Moreh cut down 45 olives trees in Deir al-Hatab village, on land owned by Palestinian man Shehada Amer, the official said.

"Settlers are trying to increase the tension with the beginning of the olive picking season," Doughlas told Wafa.

There has been a surge in settler attacks against Palestinians over the last month.

On Sept. 25, dozens of Israeli settlers uprooted over 400 Palestinian-owned olive trees near Nablus in the northern West Bank, a Palestinian Authority official said.

Also in September, settlers in Nablus have vandalized two mosques and an Israeli army base, uprooted olive trees and set fire to cars.

Some 500,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. There are about 2.5 million Palestinians in the same territory.

All settlements are considered illegal under international law.
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