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PA: Settlers prevent farmers from harvesting olives

Oct. 26, 2011 2:17 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 28, 2011 12:59 P.M.)
Correction appended

NABLUS (Ma’an) -- Settlers prevented farmers from picking olives on Wednesday in a Nablus village, a Palestinian Authority official said.

PA settlement affairs official Ghassan Doughlas said villagers in Huwwara were prevented from accessing their land near the notorious Yitzhar settlement south of Nablus, despite having approved coordination between Israeli authorities, the official news agency Wafa reported.

Settler attacks against West Bank communities increase annually around the olive harvest.

On Monday, the PA criticized ongoing settler assaults on Palestinians harvesting olives in Qalqiliya, Nablus, Salfit and Ramallah, and said settlers shot at villagers harvesting olives in Jaloud near Nablus on Friday, injuring four, including a 12-year-old boy.

"Israeli violations against Palestinians and their property and livelihood continue to increase with little or no action by the Israeli authorities to hold people to account under the rule of law," a government statement said.

Last week, Oxfam and local organizations calculated that settler violence against olive trees and agricultural land has cost Palestinian farmers an estimated $500,000 this year, based on reports by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Palestinian Authority Ministry of National Economy and the Applied Research Institute- Jerusalem.

Since 1967, 800,000 olive trees have been uprooted resulting in a loss of around $55 million to the Palestinian economy, according to a report by the PA ministry and ARIJ.

Over 2,500 olive trees were destroyed in September and 7,500 this year, UN OCHA reports.

Despite being illegal under international law, Israel has built and expanded settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank since its occupation of the territory in 1967.

Settler violence against Palestinian communities is a common feature of this forced co-existence and is rarely held accountable by the Israeli legal system.

(This version clarifies the sources for Oxfam's estimates of losses to the Palestinian economy and the number of olive trees destroyed.)
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