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MKs slam Civil Administration for uprooting dozens of trees in Judea

"Don't believe those who tell you that the IDF lacks manpower," tweeted Religious Zionism lawmaker Simcha Rothman.

Residents of Nokdim in the Judean Desert protest a decision to uproot trees near the community, March 21, 2024. Credit: Courtesy.
Residents of Nokdim in the Judean Desert protest a decision to uproot trees near the community, March 21, 2024. Credit: Courtesy.

Israeli security forces and Civil Administration personnel on Thursday uprooted dozens of trees planted by residents of the Judean Desert community of Nokdim, drawing the ire of coalition politicians.

“Don’t believe those who tell you that the IDF lacks manpower,” tweeted Religious Zionism lawmaker Simcha Rothman, who heads the Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee. “We’ve gone completely crazy!”

The MK noted that only “a few meters from here, the Palestinian Authority is building an entire city in a nature reserve, contrary to the Oslo Accords, and the Civil Administration is doing nothing!”

Rothman arrived at the scene on Thursday morning, but was only able to delay the trees’ uprooting, according to the Arutz 7 network.

The outlet cited sources in Jerusalem as saying that while the political echelons had called to stop the uprooting, IDF Central Command head Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fox opted to ignore the directive. The legal basis of Thursday’s enforcement activity was an order issued in July last year.

The Gush Etzion Regional Council, which administers the area, said that although dozens of trees were uprooted, some were spared following the intervention of council head Yaron Rosenthal. “I thank everyone who helped stop the uprooting,” he said in a statement, adding that local activists had already started planting new trees at the site.

According to the IDF, officials took action in response to “repeated illegal agricultural encroachment.” The statement claimed that the tree saplings were planted on privately owned Palestinian land.

However, residents told Arutz 7 that they believe the decision to uproot the trees was made against the background of Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s upcoming trip to the United States, scheduled for next week.

That sentiment was shared by National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who tweeted: “Minister Gallant carries out a provocation on a fast day, sending forces to uproot trees in the heart of a town.

“Unfortunately, the Minister of Defense makes gestures to the Americans before his flight to the USA, preferring Abu Mazen [P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas] and [U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd] Austin over the settlement enterprise,” added the Otzma Yehudit leader.

In January, Israeli security forces destroyed six Jewish homes in eastern Gush Etzion. Fox bypassed regular procedure in ordering the demolitions, taking the issue directly to Gallant as a security matter.

Last year, Israel Hayom claimed Fox had been unilaterally undercutting government policy by cutting down the number of forces allocated to the enforcement of Palestinian construction violations in Judea and Samaria.

In the wake of Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks, Judea and Samaria residents formed a protest group in response to Fox’s decision to green-light Palestinian olive harvesting close to Israeli communities, even after several Arabs were reportedly caught observing security measures.

In addition, Fox has repeatedly refused government and public appeals to restore checkpoints and roadblocks near Palestinian terror hotspots in the Jordan Valley and northern Samaria, critics have charged.

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