Jewish settlers on horseback destroy olive farm

By Jessica Elgot, July 21, 2009

Jewish settlers on horseback have set Palestinian olive trees on fire, blocked roads and threw stones during an angry protest at the Israeli government’s efforts to clamp down on an illegal settlement.

Ten of the settlers were arrested after the angry protest in the Palestinian village of Burin, near Nablus in the West Bank, where 1,500 olive trees are reported to have been burnt to the ground and two Palestinian motorists were injured.

The demonstrators, who rode horses into the village, also attacked cars and threw stones during the protest.

The clash was sparked by the army’s removal of a caravan, which formed part of an illegal Jewish settlement.

The Human Rights Group Yesh Din said the attack was aimed as a demonstration against the Israeli authorities, rather than Palestinians, to show what the group is capable of doing if the government continues to halt settlements.

The group said: "When a settlement, outpost or structure is under threat of evacuation by the Israeli military, settlers implement an emergency violence response including setting fire to crops, attacking villages and people and damaging property in order to draw military energy away from the scheduled evacuation.

"As well, the goal of this practice is to create a price for each evacuation, causing Israeli authorities to think twice about carrying them out.”

More than 280,000 Jews live in settlements in the West Bank, most of which are approved by the Israeli government, but there are thought to be around 100 unauthorised settlements.

Last updated: 4:23pm, July 23 2009