Palestinian children are playing, filled with joy. They race and run behind colored and beautiful butterflies, as others engage in picking up different kinds of flowers that fill the mountains of occupied Palestine. This includes the mountains of Salfit city in the middle of the West Bank. There are many types of white, yellow, red and other types of flowers there.

Spring brings an increase in the number of field trips to nature by Palestinian citizens and sometimes Jewish settlers, such as the case in the Qana Valley west of Salfit, as part of internal tourism, to watch wonderful paintings drawn by nature that the most skillful painters can’t draw, which brings much joy and comfort to people’s hearts.

Palestinian girl Rana Mahmoud collects flowers and windflowers, and sometimes hawthorns, which fills the valley, spreading everywhere, and in areas such as Ain Marfaifah south of Salfit. She says that she is collecting these flowers because of the beauty of their appearance and their good smell.

Rana’s mother insists on collecting yellow flowers due to their attractive color, putting them in a vase in her house, thus making the view in the guest room looks nicer. She says that spring is an opportunity for self-recreation and reducing life’s pressures.

Housewife Suhad Abdullah brings flowers which smell and look good. She asserts that the good smell of all flowers is refreshing to the soul. However, some of the flowers and leaves she has are famous for their medical use, such as thyme, parsley, crumbs, marmalade, chamomile and Persian thyme.

The West Bank, including Salfit and its villages, is characterized by the abundance and variety of plants and flowers due to the existence of climate diversity. This is translated into significant biodiversity, yet Jewish-only settlements and continuous levelling of Palestinian lands by Israeli occupation forces have reduced the beauty of nature, according to settlements researcher Khaled Maali from Salfit.

As for the impact of settlements on the beauty of nature in Salfit and the middle area of the West Bank, Maali added: “Settlements have had a great impact on the diversity of vegetation and biodiversity in the West Bank. Israeli industrial areas have depleted thousands of dunums, in addition to the construction of thousands of settlement units, which expanded at the expense of the Palestinian nature. In addition, this caused environmental pollution, and the destruction of natural tourist areas such as the area of Al-Mutawi west of Salfit, which was in the past a natural park and was turned into a sewage dumper for the Jewish settlement of Ariel.”