Speaking at the 13th Annual Olive Festival in Bethlehem, Hamdallah blamed the Israeli military and Jewish residents in Judea and Samaria for uprooting the trees, Israeli broadcaster Arutz Sheva reported Sunday.
Sagi Kaizler, director of the grassroots Samaria Residents Council, said recently that high-resolution photographs showed Arabs and leftist groups had destroyed olive orchards near the village of Elon Moreh in what he said was an attempt to frame Jewish residents.
"It is important to note that despite dozens of complaints against them, no indictment has been filed on Samaria residents regarding the uprooting of olive trees," Kaizler said. "This is proof that the culprit is the harvest itself -- not factual evidence [against Israel]."
A 2012 report by the Palestine Center, a Washington-based non-profit, said attacks on Palestinians and their property peaked during olive harvest, the Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported.
The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said more than 7,500 olive trees were damaged or destroyed by settlers between January and mid-October last year.
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