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Uprooting and Damaging Olive Trees, Palestine


On October 22, 2014, a group of Jewish settlers set fire to around 100 olive trees owned by Palestinan farmers in the town of Huwara. The mayor of the town claimed that Israeli occupation forces prevented the citizens from accessing their land to extinguish the fire. [3][4]

In the weeks prior to this event, the owners were banned from working the land and harvest the olive trees without being escorted by the occupation forces. Attacks on agricultural land are a common occurrence in the start of the olive harvest season, with many town witnessing their crops being stolen, olive trees cut or lands confiscated. [4]

Cases where Palestinian farmers are killed are also frequently reported. On November 30, 2017 a Palestinian farmer was shot and killed after an altercation with settlers while caring for his olive groves, in the village of Qusra, with his six-year-old son. His nephew was killed in 2011 by an Israeli soldier after attempting to stop settlers from uprooting his olive trees. [8]

On June 15, 2015, Israeli military tractors destroyed around a thousand olive and almond trees in Wadi Fukin belonging to Palestinian farmers, stating that they were illegally planted on state land. With this operation considered to be the largest of its kind to happen since 2012. The authorities said the operation was law enforcement, while Palestinian leaders doubted the legality of this move stating that it violated international law on the destruction of the property on occupied territory, namely the Paris Protocols, The Hague and Geneva Conventions and the Covenant on Economics, Social and Cultural Rights. [5][6]

In fact, during the last few years, Israeli settlers systematically destroyed Palestinian olive trees as a tool to push back Palestinian farmers from their land. Olive and olive oil are key products of the Palestinian national economy, making up 25% of the total agricultural production in the West Bank. Around 10,000 olive trees are planted yearly in the West Bank every year and Olive oil is the second major export product for Palestine. [6]

Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence in Palestine since 1967. In fact, for the last 40 years between 800,000 and a million olive trees as well as thousands of fruit trees gave been destroyed in Palestinian lands in order to facilitate the building of illegal settlements and their infrastructures. This has caused extensive losses to Palestinian farmers, as well as other restrictions to which they are subjected like curfews, security closures and settler attacks leading to difficulties in harvesting. [1][2][6] None of the complaints that where filed in the past years resulted in any indictment. [6]

"Today, there are campaigns all around the world to end the uprooting of trees in Palestine and to replant those that have already been uprooted. And each year, when the Palestinian olive harvest approaches, international volunteers join Palestinians to provide some human protection from the acts of violence visited on Palestinian farmers by Israeli settlers and soldiers who want to stop the harvesting of crops." [7]

In the face of constant destruction and uprooting of trees, the major way of resistance is to replant olive trees. Many campaigns were created in order to do so. The Million Trees campaign by the Arab Group for the Protection of Nature: "Replanting tree seedlings on damaged lands and supporting Palestinian farmers in maintaining ownership of their land are the main goals of the MTC Campaign which has carried out projects since 2001 in conjunction with Palestinian agricultural unions and CSOs with financial support from donors." [9]

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Uprooting and Damaging Olive Trees, Palestine
State or province: Nablus Governorate
Location of conflict:Qusra
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Specific commodities:Land
Olive Trees
Fruits and Vegetables

Project Details and Actors

Project details

According to the Middle East Monitor, 15% of the 89 reported cases of settler violence against Palestinians between January and June 2017 comes in the form of uprooting or damaging trees. [1]

According to Visualizing Palestine, as of October 2013, more than 800,000 trees were uprooted, with $12.3 million lost each year by the 80,000 families depending on olive harvest. [2]

Level of Investment for the conflictive project12,300,000 lost each year
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:80,000 families
Start of the conflict:1967
Relevant government actors:Palestinian Authority
Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories - Israeli Governing Body
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Yesh Din:
Women for Palestine:

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageUnknown
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Landless peasants
Local government/political parties
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Forms of mobilization:Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Boycotts of companies-products
Tree Planting


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Violent targeting of activists
Proposal and development of alternatives:The main proposal brought forward is that settlers should stop their policy of illegal land grabbing through the burning and uprooting of olive and fruit trees in Palestinian-owned land.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Israeli settlers and the Israeli Defense Forces are still uprooting and destroying trees from Palestinian lands with impunity.

Sources & Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[7] - The Plight of the Palestinians: A Long History of Destruction

Edited by William A. Cook

[3] - Jewish settlers torch Palestinian olive grove in W. Bank - World Bulletin

[4] - Palestine: Jewish Settlers Torch 100 of World's Oldest Olive Trees - International Business Times

[5] - Israel accused of 'war crime' over bulldozing of Palestinian olive groves - The Independent

[6] - Palestinian Olive Trees: Destroying a Symbol of Life - CounterPunch

[8] - Palestinian farmer shot dead by Israeli settler - AlJazeera

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[9] - The Million Trees Campaign (MTC)

Meta information

Contributor:Christophe Maroun - [email protected]
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:3300



[1] - Settler Violence Against Palestinians - Middle East Monitor (MEMO)

MEMO Infographic by The White Canvas

[2] - Uprooted. - October 2013

Infographic by VisualizingPalestine

The uprooting of olive trees has devastating implications for Palestinian farmers [Getty]