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Settlers destroy 58 trees in orchard near Bethlehem

May 16, 2014 1:58 P.M. (Updated: May 17, 2014 5:04 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Jewish settlers reportedly raided an orchard west of Bethlehem belonging to a Palestinian man and destroyed 58 trees early Friday morning, the victim said.

Raji Abd al-Aziz Sabateen told Ma'an that when he went to his field outside the village of Husan Friday morning he found that 58 trees had been mangled and torn apart.

Sabateen said that this is not the first time that Israelis from the nearby Jewish-only settlement of Betar Illit have attacked his orchard.

The orchard is located directly alongside the settlement, which was built on land belonging to the village that was confiscated by Israeli authorities.

Betar Illit sits wedged between Husan and a number of other Palestinian villages, and the fences and checkpoints that have been erected by the Israeli military around it cause major headaches for local residents.

Attacks on Palestinian orchards, meanwhile, are extremely common, as many settlers seek to expand their Jewish-only communities into nearby areas.

Husan is located in the seam zone, a quasi-militarized zone within the West Bank but on the Israeli side of the separation wall.

Villages within the seam zone experience severe restrictions on their movements, as they are completely surrounded by areas under Israeli control and cut off from other Palestinians, and Israeli forces require them to obtain permits in order to travel.

According to the UN, Around 7,500 Palestinians who reside in the Seam Zone require special permits to continue living in their own homes; another 23,000 will be isolated upon the wall's completion.
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