Israeli Activists Plant Olive Trees Near Palestinian West Bank Village

On Friday morning, around 400 Israeli activists showed up to help Palestinian farmers in planting olive trees near Burin, a West Bank village. This came two weeks after extremist settlers had attacked there, leaving a number of people wounded. The leader of the Rabbis for Human Rights, Avi Dabush made a statement about this incident. He said that hundreds of Israeli showing up at the scene of the attack after two weeks, including the ones who had been injured by Jewish terrorists, was undoubtedly a big victory. He said that they had committed to not giving into violence and standing in solidarity with the Palestinian olive farmers against the ones attacking them regularly and they had done so.

The organization disclosed that an attempt was also made by a number of settlers to reach the area of the planting from the illegal Givat Ronen outpost. However, they had been rebuffed by the army, with whom they had coordinated the event. A statement from the military said that the troops and the activists had some ‘friction’. It said that security forces were present for maintaining order and for preventing any incidents of violence. According to the Israeli Defense Forces, they had to detain one activist for the alleged assault of a soldier and police officers had later arrested him.

It further said that any incident of violence against the forces is a serious matter for the IDF. The convoy of buses and cars had been briefly blocked by the troops for reasons unknown. The planting event on Friday was also attended by several lawmakers, which included Mossi Raz and Gaby Lasky of Meretz and Ahmad Tabi from the Joint List. The illegal outpost of Evyatar, which had been evacuated, was also visited by the lawmakers. On Wednesday morning, news had come that during his final hours in the office, Avichai Mandelblit, the former attorney general, had given his approval for a compromise deal between the settlers and government for legalizing the outpost.

The government’s coalition is ideologically diverse, so it is not surprising that the move is a controversial one. Nonetheless, it still has to be approved by Benny Gantz, the Defense Minister. Raz said that they had visited the outpost to demand for evacuation. The police also reported on Friday that the tires of six cars were punctured and several homes were sprayed with graffiti in as-Sawiya, the Palestinian West Bank town. They are now investigating the incident. 

These vandalism incidents against Israeli security forces and Palestinians are referred to as ‘price tag’ attacks. According to perpetrators, these are retaliation for government policies deemed hostile towards the settler movements, or for Palestinian violence. Arrests of the perpetrators rarely happen and right groups state that convictions are unusual, as charges are mostly dropped in these cases. On 21st January, Israeli activists and Palestinians had been attacked with stones and clubs, which saw almost six people injured, and a car was also burned down. An investigation is ongoing by the Shin Bet, but no arrests have been made so far.

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