31 May 2011
HEBRON/AL-KHALIL: Settlers burn ancient olive trees in Tel Rumeida
by Esther Mae Hinshaw
At 4:30 p.m. on 27 May 2011, CPT received a call that settlers set fire to olive orchards on the Abu Haikel property in Tel Rumeida. By the time Paulette Schroeder, Laurens van Esch, and Esther Mae Hinshaw arrived at the Abu Haikel house, the fire had almost gone out.
One of the Abu Haikel sons took the CPTers to the scene of the fire. As some of the trees were still smoldering, a Palestinian fireman from the Hebron Municipality continued to monitor the scene. The fireman reported that soldiers had taken all of their new fire hoses and given them old hoses to use. Later, when the CPTers asked the soldiers to return the new equipment to the last remaining fireman, they did not respond.
The fire affected sixteen ancient olive trees, some more than a thousand years old, in an area of almost two dunums (one-half acre). The soldiers from the post nearby yelled at the CPTers to leave the field, but CPTers called out to them that they were on land belonging to the Abu Haikel family, who had invited them to be there. When the CPTers continued to take pictures, the soldiers took no further action.
Asked whether the trees would one day produce olives again, the son responded, "No, they've burned them for the last seven years."
See more photos of the Abu Heikels' burnt fields and olive trees at http://cpt.org/index.php?q=gallery&g2_itemId=23097.