Under security pretext…!!! Israeli army cut Pine and Apple trees on the main road opposite Al- Arrub camp

Under security pretext…!!! Israeli army cut Pine and Apple trees on the main road opposite Al- Arrub camp




In an interview by LRC field worker with Mr. Khaled Shebana, head of Forestry Dept. at the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture ( MOA)- Hebron office, he gave the following account: '' we received a letter from Mr. Ahmad Dudeen, head of Al- Arrub Agricultural station dated in November, 2002, informing us of the Israeli army's request to cut 9 old forest trees planted near the main Hebron- Jerusalem road under the pretext that they were leaning down towards the road and could fall any time at cars passing in the road. Mr. Dudeen estimated in his letter the weight of the 9 trees to be 8 tons. Following this, the head of MOA- Hebron office, Mr. Khalil Qanam, sent a letter in this regard to the head of finance and administration at the Ministry, who, in turn, replied by asking Hebron office to announce a tender''.

Mr. Shebana went on to say: '' The tender was announced and opened on March 6th, 2002. Contractor Abdul Razaq Abu- Sneini from Hebron city won it. He deposited the amount of 1500 NIS. Due to the Israeli military actions and incursions against Palestinian controlled areas which followed that date we tried to postpone the tender implementation hoping that the Israeli army would refrain from his demand of cutting the trees. The tender continued to be paralyzed until the end of October, 2002, when we received a letter from the financial manager at the MOA inquiring about the deposited amount and asking us to execute the tender. We immediately phoned the contractor and asked him to be ready to carry out the tender after we had given him a license to cut and load the wood. On Nov. 24th, 2002, the director of Hebron office sent a letter to Mr. Hani Al- Bizra, Palestinian liaison officer at the DCO to get him acquainted with the matter. In his turn, he asked us to wait until coordination was done with the Israeli side as the target trees were located near the main road specified as zone C which is under total Israeli security supervision''.

The day of aggression

 Later on, the Palestinian liaison officer told Mr. Shebana to get the trees cut on Saturday, Dec. 14th, 2002 as agreed upon with the Israeli side. When the contractor arrived to the site on that day with his workers they were surprised by the arrival of an Israeli military force accompanied by a civil administration officer who ordered the contractor to cut all the 170 pine trees planted near the main road opposite Al- Arrub refugee camp. The contractor immediately phoned the MOA- Hebron office – and informed them of this development.

MOA cancels license of tree cutting and loading

 As a result of this development, the MOA – Hebron office called the contractor, informed him of the cancellation of the license and asked him to leave the site. On the other hand, the head of MOA- Hebron office- contacted the Palestinian liaison officer to inform him of this latest development who, in turn, phoned his Israeli counterpart. The Israeli liaison officer contacted the civil administration officer commanding the Israeli military force at the site and asked him to refrain from cutting the trees. However, the civil administration officer refused to obey and said that he would cut all the trees on his own responsibility and without getting any permissions form any parties. Following this phone conversation, the Israeli liaison officer told his Palestinian counter part that he would sue the Israeli civil administration officer in Israeli courts.

Detention of contractor and workers

 Then, the Israeli civil administration officer ordered Israeli soldiers to confiscate the IDs of the contractor and workers. He led them by force to the Israeli military post at the entrance to Al- Arrub refugee camp.

Workers forced under gunpoint to cut trees

 The civil administration officer ordered soldiers to force the contractor and workers under gun point to start cutting the trees along the main road using mechanic saws. 130 pine trees and 20 apple trees were cut from trunk. The soldiers remained present with their guns pointed at workers throughout the cutting process. They also forced workers to pull the cut trees and branches away from the road. See Photo 1


Some trees after they have been cut and the road edge


Actual reasons behind this aggression

At the end of November, 2002, the Israeli army set- up an observation post ( an armored watching tower)  opposite the main entrance to Al- Arrub camp. The tower was erected 10 meters from the road margin inside the borders of the Agricultural College, which, consequently led to the confiscation of half a dunum from the College land. Taking into consideration the existence of a sharp curve in the main road in front of the tower, it became not possible for soldiers manning the tower to see the opposite side of the road and to get a clear view of the curve. Therefore, the Israeli army chose to cut all the trees to clear off the area and make vision possible for soldiers. See Photo 2 


The curve, the Camp and the Pine trees before they cut


In addition, the Israeli policy, in general, aims at cutting and uprooting as much as possible of trees belong to Palestinians and destroying vast areas of cultivated land in the vicinity of main roads used by Israeli settlers and army patrols. This policy is implemented during the current Intifada, particularly, in Gaza Strip.  It is done under the pretext of security reasons. But, the actual reason behind this policy is economic one, that is, to inflict heavy losses on Palestinian farmers as part of the collective punishment being utilized against the whole Palestinian society in West bank and Gaza Strip. See Photo 3 


        The curve after the trees were cut

Estimation of material losses 

Material Losses

Estimated Cost 

130 Pine trees at the age of 60 years (26 tons of wood).

26 tons X 500 NIS/ton = 13000 

20 fruitful Apple trees belong to the Faculty of Agriculture-Hebron University at the age of 6 years: 

24000 NIS

The destruction of 120 meter long fence

120 m X 15 NIS = 1800 NIS

he destruction of 40 metal fence 

40 X 20 NIS = 800 NIS

Total material losses: 39600 NIS, equal 8600 US $.


Prepared by
The Land Research Center


Categories: Agriculture