An excellent post from the excellent ‘Land and People‘ Blog
“Shafi explains that before the Six-Day (1967) War, northern Gaza was especially famous for its citrus plantations. But then in 1968, Israel — itself a major citrus producer and now in control of Gaza — pushed Gazan farmers to grow strawberries and flowers instead, to stifle any competition. With the two intifadas – and particularly the second, which started in September 2000 – Israeli forces began to bulldoze the groves, saying they gave cover to militants.” http://www.blogfrommiddleeast.com/?new=64026
This is a common Israel tactic: removing trees and orchards. For at least 3 reasons: One, it makes it much easier to push populations away if their crops are not rooted perennially. Two, annual cash crops like strawberries and flowers have a very short shelf life, which put the farmer totally at the mercy of the middlemen (in this case, according to the article, they are israeli middle men). And three and most importantly: trees provide cover for armed operations. A well connected friend told me that the israeli consider that it is their right to interfere in the reforestation plans in Jordan. This is why the Resistance in Lebanon must engage in a large scale reafforestation program sooner rather than later.