Felled olive trees (file)
Felled olive trees (file) Shomron Residents' Council

Although the Shemittah year prohibitions against planting new trees are largely kept around Israel, in both secular and religious community, the Judea town of Kfar Adumim will be planting olive trees – to replace hundreds of trees that were destroyed by Bedouin Arabs in recent weeks.

According to Boaz Ido, who is organizing the effort, the town has received special rabbinic dispensation to plant the trees during a year when agricultural activity is generally prohibited. “This is a war, and in war special rules apply,” he said.

There have been dozens of incidents of Arabs destroying trees planted by Jews in Judea and Samaria over the years, most recently on March 29, when residents of Kfar Adumim and Mishor Adumim, located east of Jerusalem, discovered that over 200 saplings had been uprooted. Local official Yaniv Aharoni said that the damage had apparently been done on a Friday night. “There is an increase in vandalism, especially in recent days,” Aharoni told Arutz Sheva. “There is much damage to property and we are happy that there have not yet been casualties, although there have been attempts. Of course, we have contacted the enforcement elements and the police.”

Police have still not solved that case, and indeed the majority of the dozens of complaints in just the past year on similar complaints have gone unsolved. “These Bedouins invade our land daily and continue to destroy without halting. They have damaged our watering system, our fences, and of course our trees,” said Ido. “We have discussed with the rabbis what our options are, because we observe the laws of Shemittah. The rabbis agree with us that this is a struggle for the land itself, just like in wartime. During a war, we even violate the laws of the Sabbath – and here, too, we are allowed to violate the laws of Shemittah, the seventh year Biblical sabbatical when work in the field is suspended.”

Ido is inviting all Jews who love the land of Israel to join in, with the planting set for Thursday afternoon at 3 PM. “By replanting we are sending out a message – that we are here forever,” said Ido. “The Bedouin and Palestinians get support from the European Union to build as they wish and to take over prime pieces of land, we need to show our own support against them.”

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