On October 13 at 3:00 am, Israeli settlers cut down 70 olive trees belonging to Palestinians in the village of Qaryut.
“The trees are a very important income for us,” described Wsafe Jeaber, one of the Qaryut residents, “You don’t know how much I cried when I saw the trees; only wood and no olives. These trees feed me, my husband and three children.”
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that the olive industry makes up 14% of the agricultural income for Palestine and supports the livelihoods of approximately 80,000 families.
Having walked the ground near this orchard this summer with Qaryut leaders, I am deeply saddened that illegal Israeli settlers have carried out this irresponsible and cruel action. I lament the loss. When will these criminals be brought to justice? Why are there two systems of justice in Palestine – Israeli civil law for illegal settlers and military law for Palestinians? And why does the Israeli military allow such criminal activities? Democracies are judged on their treatment of all citizens, the enforcement of the rule of law, compensation for loss of property, and protection of those who are discriminated against. Unfortunately, the world is witnessing a racist government that is mistreating groups in Israel and all Palestinians in the occupied territory. The occupation must end.
I walked the ground near this olive grove this summer with Qaryut leaders. I lament the loss and send condolences to the family who lost their trees and the harvest. The illegal Israeli settlers who carried out this cruel and irresponsible action are cowards. Their actions are expressions of inhumanity. When will they be brought to justice for their criminal activities? When will the so-called democracy that is occupying the Palestinian territory be forced to treat all peoples under occupation in a fair way, respecting international law. Continuing to apply Israeli civil law to illegal settlers and military law to Palestinians is unacceptable. A democracy is judged on how it treats all groups, enforces the rule of law, protects those victimized, extracts compensation from criminals for victims, and ensures that human rights are enjoyed by all. The racists attitudes and actions against minority groups in Israel by cabinet ministers and crowds and the violations of human rights and humanitarian rights of Palestinians are showing the world that this government and its population are not democratic. The occupation must end.
Yes, Norman, inequality is evident. We hope and pray for an end to an occupation and for all in this land to be treated equally, in honor of their common humanity.
If you besiege a town for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you must not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them. Although you may take food from them, you must not cut them down. Are trees in the field human beings that they should come under siege from you?