PA official: Settlers destroy 2,500 olive trees in June

12:00 Jun 9 2013 Awarta, Burin, Azmut and Deir al-Hatab

NABLUS (Ma'an) -- Settlers have destroyed over 2,500 Palestinian olive trees in the Nablus area since the beginning of June, Nablus governor Jibrin al-Bakri said Sunday.

The areas primarily affected by settler violence are the villages of Awarta, Burin, Azmut and Deir al-Hatab, all of which are in close proximity to illegal Israeli settlements.

Settlers have uprooted and burned olive trees and Palestinian agricultural fields in Nablus, destroying the main source of income for villagers in the area, al-Bakri said.

If settler violence continues to go unpunished by Israeli authorities it could spark violence in the area as Palestinian villagers take the law into their own hands, the PA official said.

In 2011, Oxfam and local organizations calculated that settler violence against olive trees and agricultural land cost Palestinian farmers an estimated $500,000.

Since 1967, 800,000 olive trees have been uprooted resulting in a loss of around $55 million to the Palestinian economy, according to a report by the PA Ministry of National Economy and the Applied Research Institute- Jerusalem.

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