A French citizen was detained this afternoon for questioning (Wednesday) by civilian security guards on allegations of spying on Yitzhar residents in their homes. The unnamed man, who is suspected of taking unwanted photographs of residents and buildings in the community, may be involved in Palestinian Arab incitement in a nearby village.
Earlier reports suggesting that the French man had been residing in Palestinian Authority (PA) controlled areas near the Jewish community of Yitzhar corroborate with a Palestinian Arab media report alleging the destruction of over 600 olive trees Wednesday in the same area. The Palestinian news and information agency WAFA reports that the residents of Einabus, a Palestinian Arab settlement near Yitzhar, have blamed the Jewish village's residents for the trees' alleged destruction.
While no connection between the two stories has been publicly made, it is likely that the two incidents are connected. Einabus is only a 7-minute drive from Yitzhar, and is one of the closest Palestinian Arab settlements to the Jewish town, which has suffered numerous deadly terrorist infiltrations over the years.
The accusation is the latest in an ongoing string of highly publicized claims by Palestinian Arabs to international media regarding illegal olive orchard destruction now, during the olive harvest season. Just this past week, a PA official vowed to plant 750,000 more olive trees in Area A as "compensation" for the alleged attacks, which have been accused against IDF soldiers and Judea and Samaria's Jewish residents.
Last year, the Samaria council managed to prove through a photography and video campaign that the olive orchard attacks were a fraud, purposely orchestrated by left-wing and Palestinian Arab activist groups.
Esther Alush, a member of the Shomron Regional Council, stated that the alleged destruction of those 600 olive trees today never happened.
"Do you know how much manpower it takes to cut down 600 olive trees?" Alush asked. "There is simply not enough manpower in Judea and Samaria to do such a thing - certainly not in such a short time."
The Palestinian Arab olive tree campaign preys on the ignorance of Western journalists, who are unaware that the method of harvest for olive trees involves physically cutting the trees' branches. Rather than vandalism, photos alleging to be acts of incitement again the PA are very often normal photos of the aftermath of an olive harvest.
It has yet to be determined whether or not the French national in Yitzhar was involved in incitement, but the possibility is not unlikely. Anti-Israel sentiments have run rampant in the EU in recent years, including a boycott based on pre-1967 lines and threats from German ambassador to the UN Guido Westerwelle this past week.
European nationals account for a large percentage of the foreign anarchists and left-wing extremists who take part in regular provocations and attacks against Israeli civilians and security forces in Judea and Samaria. Just last month, a French diplomat was filmed punching an IDF soldier in the face during a confrontation in the Jordan Valley. Marion Fesneau-Castaing is to be deported from Israel at the end of this year.
The spokesperson for the village of Yitzhar was unavailable for comment.