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We got a call one night that bulldozers were uprooting a family's trees in the nearby village of Marda. When we got there, one soldier told us it was because a kid had caused a car accident. Another told us it was because kids had thrown Molotov cocktails. Yet a third one said it was because a kid had thrown a rock. How could we believe any of them? None of the soldiers could even confirm any connection between any kids and the trees. It was collective punishment, which is illegal.

The next morning, we photographed the 17 trees that were destroyed. Those bulldozing had gone to the trouble of further chopping up almost every tree to ensure that they wouldn't be replanted by their owners, who only found out in the morning what had happened.

Two days later, the Israeli army confirmed that the uprooting of Marda’s trees was unauthorized. The soldiers uprooted the trees on a whim, but were never prosecuted.

I returned to Marda to interview the owners of the uprooted trees to give them the news and to find out if they wanted to try appealing for compensation. I asked the first family if they wanted to try to sue the army for compensation. They said they didn’t want money, they wanted their trees back (now firewood in the front yard after the army cut them up). I went to see the other owners, and they said the same thing: “You can’t put a price on trees. Trees are our past and our future. We would be ashamed to make any deal that might normalize or excuse Israel’s disregard for our human rights. We don’t want money, or anything that could be mistaken for what we really need--our freedom.”

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