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Israel bombs Gaza’s agricultural sector to the brink

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One of many destroyed water wells in Gaza’s border regions.
Eva Bartlett, The Electronic Intifada, 15 February 2010

Excerpt:

Israel imposed the “buffer zone” along Gaza’s side of the internationally-recognized “Green Line” boundary nearly ten years ago. Israeli bulldozers continue to raze decades-old olive and fruit trees, farmland and irrigation piping, and demolish homes, greenhouses, water wells and cisterns, farm machinery and animal shelters.

Extending from Gaza’s most northwestern to southeastern points, the unclearly-marked buffer zone annexes more land than the 300 meters flanking the border. Israeli authorities say anyone found within risks being shot at by Israeli soldiers. At least 13 Palestinian civilians have been killed and 39 injured in border regions in and outside of the buffer zone since the 18 January end of Israel’s attacks last year, among them children and women.

A sector destroyed

Farmers in southeastern Gaza take shelter from bullets fired by Israeli soldiers at the border nearly one kilometer away.

The United Nations agency OCHA reports that roughly one-third of Gaza’s agricultural land lies within the buffer zone, its width varying from half a kilometer to two kilometers.

Ahmed Sourani, of the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee (PARC), told the Guardian newspaper: “It is indirect confiscation by fear. My fear is that, if it remains, it will become de facto.”

According to PARC, the fertile farmland in and next to the buffer zone was not long ago Gaza’s food basket and half of Gaza’s food needs were produced within the territory.

In 2008, the agricultural sector employed approximately 70,000 farmers, says PARC, including 30,000 farm laborers earning approximately five dollars per day.

One of the most productive industries some years ago, farming now yields the least and has become one of the most dangerous sectors in Gaza, due to Israeli firing, shelling and aggression against people in the border regions.

Of the 175,000 dunams of cultivable land, PARC reports 60 to 75,000 dunams have been destroyed during Israeli invasions and operations. The level of destruction from the last Israeli war on Gaza alone is vast, with 35 to 60 percent of the agricultural industry destroyed, according to the UN and World Health Organization. Gaza’s sole agricultural college, in Beit Hanoun, was also destroyed.

Oxfam notes that the combination of the Israeli war on Gaza and the buffer zone renders around 46 percent of agricultural land useless or unreachable.

More than 35,000 cattle, sheep and goats were killed during the last Israeli attacks, as well as 1 million birds and chickens, according to a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) September 2009 report.

read the rest of this article here

See also:

U.S. congressman: U.S. should break Israel`s blockade of Gaza:

“We ought to bring roll-on, roll-off ships and roll them right to the beach and bring the relief supplies in, in our version of the Berlin airlift,” Rep. Brian Baird, a Democrat from Washington state said.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1149892.html

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Written by laudyms

February 15, 2010 at 3:29 pm

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