- Title: WEST BANK: Palestinian olive groves set on fire in the West Bank city of Nablus
- Date: 16th July 2011
- Summary: NABLUS, WEST BANK (JULY 15, 2011) (REUTERS) SMOKE BILLOWING OVER HILLS NEAR THE WEST BANK CITY OF NABLUS RESIDENTS PUTTING OUT FIRE FIRE TRUCK VARIOUS OF FIRE BURNING ISRAELI ARMY JEEP ARRIVING PALESTINIAN FARMERS PUTTING OUT FIRE (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) NABLUS RESIDENT, MOHAMMAD, SAYING: "Approximately ten to fifteen settlers parked their cars and went down, set fire to the fields over there and left. (Reporter asks: you saw the settlers?). Yes, I saw them with my own eyes, they were settlers. When I whistled at them, they ran towards their cars with people waiting for them." FIRE TRUCK MORE OF FIRE
- Embargoed: 31st July 2011 13:00
- Location: West bank, West bank
- Country: Palestinian Territories
- Topics: Crime,Politics
- Reuters ID: LVACSSNUKXDKPGFHDQ4BX3RP986M
- Story Text: Jewish settlers set fire to Palestinian olive groves on Friday (July 15), a Palestinian witness said.
"Approximately ten to fifteen settlers parked their cars and went down, set fire to the fields over there and left. (Reporter asks: you saw the settlers?). Yes, I saw them with my own eyes, they were settlers. When I whistled at them, they ran towards their cars with people waiting for them," Mohammad told Reuters Television.
Residents were seen putting out a large fire that had spread over a large area of land.
Settler-related incidents resulting in Palestinian injuries and damage to property are up by 57 percent this year, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which documents violence in the Palestinian territories.
Palestinian officials say that is a worrying sign of deepening hostility which they fear could trigger wider violence as hardline settlers appear ever more a law unto themselves and frustration grows over the evaporating prospects for peace.
For Palestinians around Nablus, confrontations with ideologically-driven Israelis who have settled the area since the early 1980s have become routine in recent years. But this year has been worse than normal, say villagers.
They talk of greater numbers of settlers, more organised than before, descending from their hilltop enclaves to hurl rocks at their homes and vandalise their agricultural land.
Among the most ideological in the West Bank, the settlers around Nablus represent a minority on the fringe of Israeli society. They are a fraction of the 500,000 settlers who today live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.
They see themselves as pioneers exercising a biblical birthright to the West Bank, which together with the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem is the land where Palestinians want to establish a state alongside Israel.
The killing of a Jewish couple and three of their children in March at a settlement near Nablus has likely helped fuel the recent wave of attacks on Palestinians. Two Palestinian teenagers have been charged with the killings.
Settlers also mount attacks against Palestinians in response to Israeli government measures which they deem contrary to their interests, such as the removal of West Bank outposts built without official permission.
To Palestinians, the increasing frequency and audacity of settler attacks is an inevitable result of the support their movement enjoys from a right-wing Israeli government whose foreign minister is himself a settler.
According to Maher Ghoneim, the Palestinian Authority minister who monitors Israeli settlement activities, so far this year 178 Palestinians have been stoned, run down or shot at by settlers, compared to a total of 176 for the whole of 2010. Three Palestinians have been killed by settlers this year
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