Israelis and Palestinians show solidarity in West Bank tree planting

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A group of Israeli and foreign activists joined Palestinians form the village of Kusra near the West Bank city of Nablus on Friday where they panted some 200 olive trees.

The land was prepared early for the activists visit by a bulldozer and local Palestinian youths digging holes for the trees to be planted in.

“I say to you today, that anyone who plants an olive tree is planting love and peace on the land of Palestine,” Ghassan Dughlas, Palestinian anti settlement activist told the visiting activists before they set out to plant the trees.

Zakaria Isideh, a coordinator for Rabbis for Human Rights said that this event is in solidarity with the residents of Kusra, adding that the village has been a target of many Jewish settler attacks which have damaged hundreds of trees.

“We came here today in solidarity with this stricken village that faces dozens of attacks [from the Jewish settlers] without it being stopped by the Israeli army. And we put the responsibility on the Israeli army, police and government for the criminal acts that are committed by the settlers,” Isideh said.

Rabbis for Human Rights advertised on their website that they “are going to plant trees in one of the villages that has suffered from vandalism and the uprooting of trees by members of the extreme right,” the statement read. “It is going to be a Jewish-Palestinian solidarity event on Tu B’Shvat, which is the New Year for Trees on the Jewish calendar,” the statement continued.

“Our action will be a show of solidarity with the oppressed and dispossessed Palestinians of Area C and a protest against the vandalism of extremist settlers who uproot trees. The Torah forbids destroying fruit bearing trees,” Rabbis for Human Rights website read.

An estimated 10 million olive trees dot the Israeli-occupied West Bank, thriving in the arid climate and covering 45 percent of all agricultural land in the region. But settler attacks are taking their toll - vandals not only steal harvested olives, but have also destroyed thousands of the trees.

Under the terms of the 1993 Oslo Accords, parts of the West Bank are under full or partial control of the Palestinian Authority.

“Area C” falls under full Israeli civil and military jurisdiction. It envelops settlements built since Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967.

Approximately 500,000 Israelis and 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The United Nations deems all Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be illegal.

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