A new video entitled “Harvesting Incitement” released by the Shomron Regional Council today on YouTube purports to show Palestinians and left-wing activists cutting down olive trees in a tactic meant to frame West Bank settlers as the perpetrators according to an unnamed witness in the video. “They cut down these trees to start a fire in the media or in their ovens. It’s suspicious because it comes close to the Jewish settlements. They get close enough it becomes a security problem as well,” the witness says.
Recent attacks on olive groves in the West Bank, which have drawn strong international condemnation, were attributed to Jewish settlers. On Saturday arsonists set olive groves on fire in the town of Qaryut, about nine miles south of the city of Nablus. Wednesday seventy trees were cut down on the first day of the harvest, the town’s residents reported. In all more than 450 trees were vandalized last week as the harvest began, according to the Jerusalem Post.
This is not the first time that Palestinians have been accused of framing settlers. In 2010, Israeli news service Tazpit claimed to have documented the destruction of trees in an effort to accuse settlers.
Israeli Daily Yediot Ahronot reported at the time: “Arabs and leftist activists staged an attack on Palestinian fields in a bid to accuse settlers of vandalism, an organization that claims to have documented the incident says.”
The Jerusalem Post also reported today that on Sunday a PLO official called for international observers to protect Palestinian olive farmers and their groves.
“We urge every country with a diplomatic mission to Palestine to dispatch observer teams to Palestinian olive groves in order to discourage attacks by settlers and to document any abuse that occurs,” PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said.
“Given Israel’s support for the settlers and its refusal to allow the Palestinian Authority to provide protection through the occupied territory, the Palestinian people require international intervention to ensure their security,” Ashrawi wrote.
The video of the incident can be viewed below.