On Saturday, illegal paramilitary Israeli colonizers cut hundreds of Palestinian olive trees, grapevines, and almond trees in Masafer Yatta, south of Hebron, in the West Bank’s southern part.

Rateb Jabour, the coordinator of the Popular Committees in Masafer Yatta, said the colonizers invaded an orchard that Jaber Mohammad Makhamra owned, cutting at least 150 olive trees.

Jabour added that the colonizers also cut more than 500 olive trees in an orchard owned by Attala Abu Fanar.

He also said the colonizers cut over 40 grapevines and seven almond trees owned by Ismael Mohammad Abu Arram and destroyed a fence surrounding his land.

The attacks in Masafer Yatta are part of constant and escalating violations by the colonizers who aim at controlling more Palestinian lands, especially grazing areas and all the eastern hills overlooking the area.

“Both Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the International Criminal Court Rome Statute prohibit settlement activity. According to Article 8(2) of the Rome Statute, ‘the transfer, directly or indirectly, by an occupying power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory’ are unlawful. In 2021, United Nations Palestine expert Michael Lynk said Israeli settlements should be classified as war crimes under the Rome Statute.

All of Israel’s colonies in the occupied West Bank, including those in and around occupied East Jerusalem, are illegal under International Law, the Fourth Geneva Convention in addition to various United Nations and Security Council resolutions. They also constitute war crimes under International Law.

Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states: “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” It also prohibits the “individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory”.