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Israeli police uproot, burn olive tree saplings in East Jerusalem

April 6, 2016 12:36 P.M. (Updated: April 6, 2016 3:44 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Wednesday morning uprooted and burned 47 olive tree saplings that were planted in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan last month to mark the 40th anniversary of Land Day.

Majdi al-Abbassi, a spokesperson for the Wadi Hilweh Information Center, said Israeli police and intelligence officials stormed a tract of land in Silwan's Ras al-Amud area, uprooting the olive saplings and removing posters and graffiti depicting Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in recent months.

The 47 olive tree saplings were planted by local members of Fatah on March 30 to honor the 47 Palestinian "martyrs" shot dead by Israeli forces in Jerusalem since a wave of unrest swept the occupied Palestinian territory last October.

A mural was created at the same time bearing the names of 12 of the dead whose bodies were still being withheld by the Israeli authorities.

An Israeli police spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

Jerusalem has been one of the key focal points of violence over the past six months, with nearly a quarter of all Palestinian deaths taking place in the divided city.

The majority of these were killed after Israel says they launched attacks on Israelis, although Palestinians and rights groups have disputed the circumstances of some of these deaths. Several others were killed during clashes.

Silwan residents have seen increased Israeli police activity through the period, with the Wadi Hilweh Information Center reporting at least four demolitions of Palestinian homes in the neighborhood in the past month alone.

Last week Israeli forces attempted to stop Palestinian residents from staging a sit-in protesting Israeli efforts to push them out of the area.

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