Allegations of stolen land are as old as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict itself, particularly in the occupied West Bank. Some settlers are taking this to ridiculous extremes, however, renting tractors and literally stealing dirt by the ton from Palestinian farmers.
To understand how something like this is even possible, we need to look at the meandering Israeli military “barrier of separation” built across the West Bank. In many cases, the giant wall cuts directly through Palestinian-owned lands, leaving a farmer’s home on one side of the wall and his fields on the other, leaving the fields unworked, unguarded.
In these cases, it is trivial for the settlers to “steal land” by the truckfull, and carry it off elsewhere. Practically, it is cheaper than buying fill dirt, and the Israeli military virtually never follows up on complaints from Palestinians.
Attacks on Palestinian farmers aren’t always about theft though, sometimes they are just about spite, as 162 complaints have been filed with Israeli police about settlers chopping down or otherwise uprooting olive trees and other fruit orchards. Of the 162 complaints, only one ever led to an actual indictment, and settlers continue to believe, quite correctly it seems, that they can attack Palestinians with virtual impunity.
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