Armed Israeli settlers launched an attack on Palestinians farming their land near Nablus in the West Bank on Saturday, 3rd April, according to local reports.
The settlers, from the illegal Aish Kodesh settlement, which is built on land owned by the Palestinian village of Jaloud, reportedly assaulted an elderly farmer in the presence of Israeli soldiers, who did not intervene.
The Israelis went on to destroy power lines between Jaloud and nearby town Qasra.
The attacks are just the latest in a long-running campaign of intimidation carried out by Israeli settlers against Palestinian farmers in the area. They are often supported by Israeli soldiers, who either directly take part in the attacks or oversee them without intervention.
The attacks, which commonly destroy infrastructure and crops as well as intimidate farmers, often result in Palestinians leaving their land, allowing it to be taken over by more Israeli settlements.
Settlers frequently target Palestinian farmland in what is known by the occupation as “Area C” – which makes up around 60% of the West Bank. This administrative area was supposed to gradually transfer to Palestinian control under the Oslo agreement, but is still administered by Israeli law enforcement.
Villages including Jaloud, Aserah al-Qibliah, Aqraba, Burin, Oreef, Madama and Burqa, all south of Nablus, are frequent targets of such settler intimidation and destruction. In 2020, settlers destroyed an estimated 8,400 olive trees in the area. Villagers have reported that farm equipment and ripened fruits are also often stolen by settlers.
The Palestinian Agricultural Damage Documentation Department claims that since 2010, more than 100,000 trees have been uprooted, burned, or poisoned with chemicals by settlers.
As a result of the ongoing attacks, farmers tend to harvest their land and tend to their crops in groups, sometimes carrying shields to prevent stones being thrown at them.
Aside from these direct attacks, settlements have also resorted to using more industrial-scale vandalism of the land. The industrial settlement of Burkan discharges its chemical waste directly into olive fields near the village of Salfit, near Ramallah.
Despite the ongoing campaign of destruction and intimidation, many Palestinian farmers have vowed to remain on their land – either because they have no alternative but to farm their crops, or as an act of defiance against the illegal settlers.