28th November 2013 | International Solidarity Movement, Nablus Team | Deir Istiya, Occupied Palestine
The village of Deir Istiya has encountered severe disruption to its agriculture and water supply since 1990 from the Israeli authorities and nearby illegal settlements. This has culminated in the Israeli army’s planned action to uproot nearly 2500 olive trees in the very near future.
The army’s mandate to perform this action stems from a court ruling given in May 2013 that gave permission for them to cut down all olives trees in the Wadi Kana (a valley making up a large part of the village’s farmland) that are under two years old. However trees that were planted over five years ago have been included in the marking action over the last five months, a marking action typically precludes the actual uprooting process.
On the 26th of November, four men in civilian clothing marked 157 more trees across the village farmland. Before the army actually begins the action, under Israeli law, they have to inform lawyers representing the village of the date that this will commence. Although from past experience, villagers across the West Bank have not received such prior warning in similar cases. If the army succeeds with its plan, the destruction of more than 2,500 olive trees will decimate the village’s agriculture and economy, destroying the livelihoods of many of the 4000 inhabitants of Deir Istiya.
This is the latest in a long line of aggressive acts that the Israeli government, army, court and nearby illegal settlers have inflicted upon the people of this village. In 1990 nearby settlers deposited sewage from three separate illegal settlements into the 12 springs that provided water for the village. This water was crucial for the irrigation of the traditional crops of the village, lemon and orange trees. As water became scarce for the village, the farmers abandoned the orange and lemon crops, replacing them with olive trees due to the fact they require far less water. This is typical of the Israeli state to dramatically reduce the Palestinians methods for survival only to attempt to snatch away the small ray of hope that they have managed to build for themselves in the face of such adversarial conditions.
Moreover, on the 23th of November, illegal settlers from a nearby settlement trespassed on Palestinian land in order to steal 100 meters of fencing material. The purpose of this fence was to protect a number of olive trees from pigs that have infested the area since Israeli settlers began releasing them for the exact purpose of disrupting Palestinian olive farming.