||Challenging myths and presenting facts about
68,000 Palestinian olive and fruit trees replanted by Israel
published on 14 December 2003
Beyond Images Ref: 76
One of the main accusations Israel faces about the building of the security fence is that the project disregards the land rights of Palestinians. The following report, which appeared in the UK-based Jewish Chronicle newspaper on 12 December 2003 , shows this accusation to be a myth:
Israel has spent hundred of thousands of shekels replanting 65,000 Palestinian-owned olive trees and 3,500 fruit trees uprooted to make way for its West Bank security fence.
Defence Ministry Spokeswoman Rachel Ashkenazi told the Jewish Chronicle this week: “We are building the fence to provide protection for the citizens of Israel . But at the same time we are trying to minimise the damage to the Palestinian population. Wherever there is no option but to seize land where there are olive trees or fruit trees, we find it humane to replant them outside the course of the fence so that the owners can benefit from them.
Private companies building the fence are required by contract to replant all trees uprooted. Ministry supervisors take aerial photos before and after the building work to make sure they comply. We know how many trees there were and how many were replanted. Only then do the contractors get paid….”
The spokeswoman added that the trees were replanted wherever the Palestinian farmers designated. If they chose not to cooperate, the trees were replanted as near as possible to their original site. The Defence Ministry was also arranging for them to be watered for two months. The cost of the operation is estimated as several hundred shekels – nearly £100 – per tree.
[On the Security Fence generally, see Beyond Images Briefings 5 and 73.]