BFF-48 Palestinians replant trees after Israel uproots thousands

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BFF-48

ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS

Palestinians replant trees after Israel uproots thousands

TUBAS, Palestinian Territories, Jan 28, 2021 (BSS/AFP) –
Palestinians on Thursday replanted hundreds of trees in the occupied
West Bank, a day after Israel’s army uprooted thousands of trees in
the area, saying they had been illegally planted in a military zone.

Carrying spades and pickaxes, dozens of Palestinian activists and
staff from the Palestinian agriculture ministry worked to plant
seedlings in a valley near Khirbeit Einoun, in Tubas governorate, an
AFP journalist said.

An estimated 500 trees were planted on Thursday and the operation
is expected to continue for several days, agriculture ministry
official Jaafar Salahat told the official Wafa news agency.

Palestinian activist Moataz Bisharat, who works to oppose Israel’s
occupation of the West Bank, told AFP the army had destroyed about
10,000 trees, including hundreds of olive trees, on Wednesday “on the
grounds that the area is a restricted military zone”.

The Israeli military branch responsible for civilian affairs in the
West Bank (COGAT) said it had “carried out an enforcement activity to
evacuate an illegal agricultural invasion in a fire zone”.

In response to a query from AFP, COGAT said “the enforcement
activity was carried out in accordance with the procedures of the
region’s authorities according to the law applicable in Judea and
Samaria”, using biblical names for the West Bank.

Palestinian activist Khairi Hanoun said the tree planting was aimed
at sending “a message to the occupier”.

“Trees are our roots, our history, our heritage, our identity,” he said.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War.

There are currently about 475,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank
living in communities considered illegal by most of the international
community, alongside some 2.8 million Palestinians.

BSS/AFP/MRU/2353hrs