IDF soldiers in Samaria
IDF soldiers in Samaria Flash 90

IDF soldiers confiscated dozens of illegally planted trees in Area C in Judea & Samaria earlier this month in part of an increased effort to combat illegal land seizures.

According to Arab media, the IDF confiscated trees that were planted by the Jordanian-based NGO, The Arab Group for the Protection of Nature (APN), which planted trees outside of Hebron as part of an initiative backed by Fatah.

The IDF's move was praised by Community Affairs Minister Tzachi Hanegbi, who earlier this month announced that the government would be allocating NIS 20,000,000 in 2021 toward establishing a new initiative aimed at preventing the illegal takeover of state land in Judea and Samaria.

"We cannot simply close our eyes and come to terms with the current reality because we are tired," said Hanegbi. "The only way to win this battle is by sticking to our mission and not giving up."

Last month, the Zionist watchdog group Im Tirtzu revealed that APN planted nearly 2.5 million trees in Israel as a means of "green resistance" to "liberate Palestine from the river to the sea."

The report revealed that the Amman-based NGO is operating a "Million Tree Campaign" that claims to have planted 2,434,452 trees and cultivated 126,307 dunams (31,211 acres) of Israeli land from 2001 to 2019, with a focus on Judea and Samaria.

According to the Ottoman-era land law that is still used to govern Judea and Samaria, one can claim ownership over state land if he has cultivated the land in question for several consecutive years.

That is why Arab groups have increasingly turned to illegal construction and tree plantings in Area C in recent years.

Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg said: "Israel's enemies have learned that they don't need weapons to conquer Israeli land; all they need is a tree and a camera. While IDF soldiers know how to deal with terrorism, it is much more difficult to fight against this sort of warfare."

Peleg continued: "We congratulate the security forces who heeded the call of the Community Affairs Minister to combat this illegal takeover. Israel needs to stop these illegal land grabs before it's too late."

Community Affairs Minister Tzachi Hanegbi also praised the work of Im Tirtzu, adding: "I applaud the determination of Im Tirtzu in the fight against the Palestinian attempt to take over land in Judea and Samaria."

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