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Witnesses: Settlers attack farmers, burn olive trees

Oct. 7, 2012 8:09 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 8, 2012 8:48 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A group of settlers attacked Palestinian farmers in the Ramallah town of Beitillu on Sunday, burning dozens of olive trees, witnesses said.

Locals told official news agency Wafa that settlers from nearby Nehaliel settlement attacked the farmers while they were picking olives and set fire to dozens of trees.

Israeli forces intervened in the incident, according to locals.

Earlier Sunday, settlers uprooted around 40 olive trees in the nearby Ramallah village of Ras Karkar, village council head Riziq Nofel told Ma'an.

Settler attacks often increase around the time of the olive harvest season as settlers target olive trees and agricultural land.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian affairs reported that over 2,500 olive trees were destroyed in September 2011, and 7,500 throughout 2011.

Since 1967, 800,000 olive trees have been uprooted by Israeli forces, resulting in a loss of around $55 million to the Palestinian economy, according to a report by the Palestinian Authority Ministry of National Economy and the Applied Research Institute of Jerusalem.
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