Saturday, January 31, 2009

'Destruction of all means of life'

Gaza desperately short of food after Israel destroys farmland
The Guardian: Officials warn of 'destruction of all means of life' after the three-week conflict leaves agriculture in the region in ruins. Gaza's 1.5 million people are facing a food crisis as a result of the destruction of great areas of farmland during the Israeli invasion... Between 35% and 60% of the agriculture industry has been wrecked by the three-week Israeli attack, which followed two years of economic siege...

'Before the blockade and the attack,' said Ahmad Sourani, director of the Agricultural Development Association of Gaza, 'Gaza produced half of its own food. Now that has declined by 25%. In addition, a quarter of the population depends on agriculture for income. What we have seen in large areas of farmland is the destruction of all means of life.

'We have seen a creeping process of farmers being forced out of the buffer zone around Gaza's border. Before 2000 we could approach and farm within 50m of the fence. After Israel's evacuation of the settlements in 2005, the Israeli army imposed a buffer of 300m... Now there are areas, depending on the situation, where farmers cannot reach their farms in safety... It is indirect confiscation by fear... Bear in mind that 30% of Gaza's most productive land is within that buffer zone.'

The wholesale destruction of farms, greenhouses, dairy parlours, livestock, chicken coops and orchards has damaged food production, which was already hit by the blockade. Buildings heavily damaged included much of its agricultural infrastructure... Scores, perhaps hundreds, of wells and water sources have been damaged and several hundred greenhouses have been levelled...

As well as the physical damage done by Israeli bulldozers, bombing and shelling, land has been contaminated by munitions, including white phosphorus, burst sewage pipes, animal carcasses and even asbestos used in roofing. In many places, the damage is extreme... 'We can clear the ground in two weeks. Then what? The well is gone. The pump has been destroyed. And where will the trees come from to replant the land?'

Image source here.