Gaza Farmers Hit Hard by Israel’s Summer Aggression: NGO

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Friday, February 27, 2015

Farmers in the Gaza Strip continue to suffer the consequences of massive losses incurred during Israel's military offensive last summer, a French humanitarian NGO said Thursday.

Première Urgence - Aide Médicale Internationale (PU-AMI) said that over 88 percent of crops provided to farmers by the group were damaged during the 51-day aggression, with farmers continuing to suffer from access restrictions and violations of International Humanitarian Law.

The Israeli offensive on Gaza ended on August 26 with an Egypt-brokered ceasefire deal.

More than 2,310 Gazans, 70 percent of them civilians, were killed and 10,626 injured during unrelenting Israeli attacks on the besieged strip this summer.

The assault left the densely populated enclave in ruins, displacing more than a quarter of Gaza's population of 1.7 million and leaving 100,000 people, mostly children, homeless.

Nearly 87 percent of irrigation systems were damaged during the war, the group said, and the high cost of water means most farmers cannot afford to irrigate their crops.

A survey of 285 farmers conducted by the group found that 84 percent assessed were forced to take out loans to cope with the loss of income incurred by damage to their land.

"Before 2005, I used to have greenhouses here where I grew tomatoes and I used to earn good money exporting these tomatoes to the West Bank, Israel and abroad," farmer Amona Ahmed Abu Rejalaa, from Khuza, told PU-AMI.

"Since the imposition of access restrictions in 2005 and the blockade in 2007, the situation has been totally different. Exportation is not allowed, access is limited and risky (as we often hear warning shots and have to leave),” he said. “And we are left with very low income and increasing debts."

Under Israeli blockade by air, land and sea since 2007, the Gaza Strip has seven border crossings linking it to the outside world. Six of these are controlled by Israel, while the seventh – the Rafah crossing – is controlled by Egypt, which recently closed it following a wave of attacks in Sinai.

PU-AMI called on Israel and Egypt "to abide by their obligations under International Humanitarian Law and respect basic human rights in Gaza — which includes to fully lifting the blockade to allow unrestricted import and export of goods and the freedom of movement of people."

The restrictions on Gaza’s fishermen crippled the coastal enclave’s fishing industry and impoverished local fishermen.

A 2011 report by the International Committee of the Red Cross said that 90 percent of Gaza’s 4,000 fishermen are poor, an increase of 40 percent from 2008 as a direct result of Israeli limits on the fishing industry.

According to Nizar Ayyash, head of Gaza's Palestinian Fishermen's Union, some 50,000 Gazans earn a living from the fishing business. He estimated their combined losses during Israel's recent war at more than $6 million.

Meanwhile, Israeli forces regularly shoot at farmers and other civilians inside the Gaza Strip if they approach large swathes of land near the border that the Israeli military has deemed off-limits to Palestinians.

The so-called "security buffer zone" extends between 500 meters and 1,500 meters into the Strip, effectively turning local farms into no-go zones.

The latest incident was on Tuesday when Israeli forces opened fire at Palestinian farmers east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip and Israeli naval forces fired at fishermen off the coast of Gaza after they allegedly deviated from the designated fishing zone.

(Ma’an, Al-Akhbar)

Comments

Comment les palestiniens pourront-ils s en sortir si ils ne peuvent travailler leurs terres , si ils sont bloqués dans les check points jusqu'au bon vouloir de la police... Ce peuple est voué a disparaître ,israël ne leurs accorde aucun droits, pas de logement,pas d électricité pas d eau,pas d école ,pas de vie, pas de rêves...c est une spirale de mort

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