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Report: Israel sprayed Gaza farmland with herbicide

By Sara Cuña - February 10, 2016
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Gaza]

Palestinian farmers in Gaza Strip said Israeli military aircraft sprayed their land with herbicide in Dec. 2015, according to findings published by Israeli organisation B’Tselem.


According to the report, Israeli military sprayed Gaza crops on three days, Dec. 8, 21 and 23, covering areas up to 200 meters west of the border between the Gaza strip and Israel.


“About two days after the spraying, I began to see the damage on the leaves of the plants. Five days later, I could already see the damage to the peas and the fava beans, which dried up. When I saw that, I couldn’t believe it. My plants were burnt, right in front of me, and I realized I’d lost my crop and I wouldn’t see even one shekel from it,” one of the farmers, a father of six kids, is quoted as having said in the report.


The agricultural land purportedly sprayed extended from the center of Gaza Strip to the south, including the area between al-Bureij Refugee Camp and Khuza’ah. Farmland beyond this area was also damaged due to heavy winds at the wind which spread the herbicide.


“Over the past two or three years, Israel has undertaken similar spraying operations once or twice a year,” authors of the report wrote, adding that in previous years, Israeli forces used bulldozers to destroy vegetation and land along the border.


The Israeli military informed Palestinians in 2014 that farmers would be authorised to farm land up to 100 meters before the border fence with Israel.


Restrictions to Palestinian farmers in Gaza to their land close to the border go back to the beginning of the second intifada, in Sep. 2000, according to the report.


Frequent changes made by the Israeli military of the definition of “no-go zones” close to the border, and the uncertainty of the exact boundaries of these zones, which are unmarked, leave Palestinian farmers in imminent danger.


Israeli forces have previously shot farmers working on their land who were under the impression that they were permitted to do so.


As a result, research done by B’Tselem reveals that many farmers are being forced to rent land elsewhere in order to support their families.


“I’d estimate that my financial losses are around 5,000 dollars, not including work time,” said Abd al-Karim Mahana, a 60 year old farmer and father of thirteen. “The Israeli occupation authorities persecute us and damage our livelihood all the time. We’ve also suffered many times from shooting and other obstacles that the military puts in the way of our work. They endanger our lives and our children’s lives.”



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