Farmers from Surif, north of Hebron, went to their land, on Tuesday, to find that many of their trees had been set on fire by settlers. According to the Palestinian Solidarity Project, based in nearby Beit Ummar, about 85 trees were destroyed.Shaban Atiya al-Hur and Ahmed Atiya al-Hur have farmed the al-Hajahat area of Surif all their lives. This morning both men attended their land to find that settlers from the nearby Bat Ayn settlement had destroyed 85 of their olive and fig trees.

The trees were destroyed by deliberately lit fires and amount to around half the trees in the area. The fires were started at approximately 9:30am and lasted for around half an hour.

Employment and economic opportunities for Palestinian residents of the region are extremely limited and the loss of these trees will have a devastating impact on the families of the affected farmers. Whilst the trees can be replanted, it will take several years before they can again produce fruit to the same extent as the destroyed trees. There is also a real risk that the settlers will destroy any new trees or that the land will be annexed by the Israeli military for settlement expansion.

Destruction of trees and crops is a frequent tactic of the settlers in an attempt to intimidate the local Palestinian population and assist in the annexation of the land by the Israeli military for settlement expansion.

No Israeli police or military attended the scene.