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20 Mar, 2015

Israel Cuts 150 Olive Trees in Hebron, Burns Roots to Ensure Damage

HEBRON, March 18, 2015 (WAFA) – The so-called Israeli Civil Administration Wednesday sprayed the roots of around 150 Olive trees in the area of Mala southeast of Dahriya south of Hebron with Chemicals to kill the trees, under allegations of being planted in a state property.

According to local sources, the Israeli army cut the trees and sprayed the roots with chemicals to ensure that they will not grow again, even though the land is owned by a Palestinian resident who was identified as Adam Nassar Atal.

The importance of Olive trees for Palestinians is not only symbolic, but also economic. In addition to their figurative meaning, olive trees are a main source of income for around 80,000 Palestinian families. The uprooting of one Olive tree means that a family’s economic status has been affected.

An Oxfam report in 2011 revealed that over 800,000 olive trees were uprooted by the Israeli authorities since 1967, which equals the size of 33 central parks in New York City.

Meanwhile, both UNDP and OCHA reports estimated the total loss at $12.3 million as around 80,000 Palestinian families rely economically on the income provided through planting Olive trees.

Olive trees account for 70% of fruit production in Palestine and contribute around 14% to the Palestinian economy. A total of 93% of the olive harvest is used for olive oil production while the rest is used for olive soap, table olives and pickles.

According to UN figures, around 48% of the agricultural land in the West Bank and Gaza is planted with olive trees.

Much of the olive production is for local consumption with a small amount of olives being exported primarily to Jordan. With the growing interest in organic food and fair trade, Palestinian olives are now also reaching European and North American markets.