Members of the security team in Yitzhar, in Samaria, spotted a group of Arab men entering an Arab olive grove near the Lehava neighborhood of the community Saturday morning. IDF soldiers were notified and arrived at the scene to question the men and ensure that they did not pose a danger to residents of Yitzhar. The soldiers were surprised to see that the group was busy cutting down olive trees.
The men were cutting the trees in a "violent manner," soldiers said, explaining that they tried to show that there was damage to the trees instead of simply pruning them. They were apparently planning to accuse Jewish residents of Yitzhar of cutting down the Arab-owned trees, repeating accusations that have been made in recent years. The owner of the trees was not present and had not notified the army that he was planning to prune his grove, which Palestinian Authority farmers near Jewish towns are required to do.
Residents of Yitzhar said that Arabs and Israeli leftists had framed Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria for destroying olive trees many times in recent years. In one case, leftist activist Yoel Marshak was caught in an Arab olive grove holding a saw, they said.
Despite the proof that the alleged attacks on olive trees were faked, and despite the fact that no Jewish resident of Judea and Samaria has been convicted of such an attack, the media continues to accept Arab claims and blame Jews for damage done to Arab-owned trees, residents of Yitzhar said. They called on the media to avoid blind acceptance of the claims made by local Arabs.
Following Saturday's incident, Arab residents of the village of Burin near Yitzhar accused residents of Yitzhar of attacking them as they attempted to harvest olives.
Infiltration Foiled near Har Bracha
In the nearby town of Har Bracha, three Arab men were spotted trying to infiltrate the town on Saturday afternoon. The three had arrived in the area with a group of Arabs who told soldiers they were villagers who had come to harvest olives.
Soldiers chased the would-be infiltrators to the village of Khalil, south of Shechem, where they caught two men suspected of involvement in the incident. The two were arrested and taken to security services for questioning.