A group of Jewish settlers, reportedly from the Metzad settlement, near Bethlehem, uprooted over 500 newly planted olive tree saplings on Wednesday, near the Hebron town of al-Shuyukh.The damaged fields belong to the al-Ayaydeh family, local activists said.

The owners found the damaged trees in the morning, while going out to check the land, which is near the Gush Etzion settlement bloc.

Last week, settlers from Metzad destroyed over 70 tree saplings near the town of Sair, according to Ma’an News Agency.

Attacks on olive trees are a key way that Palestinians are forced out of their homes and their lands confiscated for settlement construction, as the loss of a year’s crop can signal destitution for many.

The olive industry supports the livelihoods of roughly 80,000 families in the occupied West Bank.

According to a United Nations OCHA report, ‘Israeli settlers destroyed over 5,500 Palestinian-owned olive trees and saplings in the period between December 30 2014, and January 12, 2015.”

AIC notes that, according to Palestinian News and Info Agency sources, the settlers were from Asfar and Bani Kadim, and that the uprooted saplings belonged to the families of both Abd al-Qader and Mousa al-Ayaydeh.

Local residents strongly denounced the settlers’ ‘heinous actions’ of destroying residential land, stressing that they will remain steadfast in their land and replant the trees again.

On Tuesday, Israeli forces uprooted dozens of Palestinian-owned olive trees in the northern West Bank town of Tayasir, to the east of Tubas.

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