Israeli settlers accused of cutting down hundreds of Palestinians' trees

AP , Tuesday 20 Sep 2011

Palestinian officials report two-fold increase in settler attacks on Palestinian property, with 40 attacks within past month alone

Palestinian villagers say that Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank have set fire to dozens of acres of agricultural land and cut down about 500 olive, fig and almond trees.

Palestinian officials said Tuesday that settler attacks on Palestinian property had doubled within the past year, with 40 such attacks reported within the past month alone. Israeli police say a task force has been set up to deal with such cases.

It was not clear whether Monday's attacks near the villages of Einabous and Deir Istiya were linked to the current Palestinian bid to win UN recognition for a state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem.

Israeli settlers are reportedly planning rallies later on Tuesday. Settler organizer Boaz Haetzni says the message his followers hope to deliver is that "this is our land and no Palestinian state will be here."

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