1 February 2009
Gaza desperately short of food after Israel destroys farmland
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.
According to the World Food Programme, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation and Palestinian officials, between 35% and 60% of the agriculture industry has been wrecked by the three-week Israeli attack, which followed two years of economic siege.
Christine van Nieuwenhuyse, the World Food Programme's country director, said: "We are hearing that 60% of the land in the north - where the farming was most intensive - may not be exploitable again. It looks to me like a disaster. It is not just farmland, but poultry as well...
...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 during Israel's Operation Cast Lead included much of its agricultural infrastructure. The Ministry of Agriculture was targeted, the agriculture faculty at al-Azhar university in Beit Hanoun largely destroyed, and the offices of the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committees in Zaitoun - which provides cheap food for the poor - ransacked and vandalised by soldiers who left abusive graffiti.
Although international and local officials are still gathering figures, they believe that scores, perhaps hundreds, of wells and water sources have been damaged and several hundred greenhouses have been levelled, as well as severe damage inflicted on 60,000-75,000 dunums of Gaza's 175,000 dunums (44,000 acres) of farmable land....
...As well as the physical damage done by Israeli bulldozers, bombing and shelling, land has been contaminated by munitions, including white phosphorous, burst sewerage pipes, animal carcasses and even asbestos used in roofing. In many places, the damage is extreme. In Jabal al-Rayas, once a thriving farming community, every building has been knocked down, and even the cattle killed and left to lie rotting in the fields...
Gaza desperately short of food after Israel destroys farmland | World news | The Observer
Why the Gaza disaster is not 3 weeks old and has not stopped along with the bombs
22 January 2009
...Gaza’s misery did not start 3 weeks ago; and it has certainly not ended following the ceasefire.
The context which is often neglected in the Israeli press is that of the deadly and worsening siege policy on the Gaza Strip started 18 months ago.
Illustrative of the depth of this siege are the recent surveys concerning the rapid increase in ‘stunted growth’ in Gaza’s Children over the last years.
A phenomena like stunting does not occur overnight, nor can it be quickly reversed, and is a sad figure which will hopefully awaken Israel and the world to the lies that they left Gaza ’all alone’ after 2005.
Since the June 2007 take over of Gaza by Hamas, Gazans have been living in a constant state of siege and blockade, resulting in severe restrictions and shortages of the most basic supplies such as food, flour, fuel, cooking gas, electricity, water supply, medicines and medical equipment. This siege has been declared as a form of collective punishment and condemned by a vast array of governments and Human Rights organizations alike.
On the 17th of December 2008 - the eve of the ‘Cast lead’ operation’- UNRWA, the United Nation Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees - 70% of the Gaza residents are registered refugees dependent on for food supplies - suspended its food aid to Gaza and 750,000 Palestinians due to border closure. UNRWA storage warehouses in Gaza were completely empty and no trucks have been allowed to cross into Gaza to fill them up.
Prior to the Israeli ‘Cast Lead’ operation, the situation in Gaza was already classified by the main legitimate international humanitarian organisations as a “humanitarian crisis”.
Human rights and development organisations such as Amnesty International, Care International, Medecins du Monde, Oxfam and Save the Children declared in March 2008 that the situation in Gaza represented “the worst humanitarian crisis in the Strip since Israel occupied it in the 1967 war” and that this was “a man-made disaster resulting from the isolation and blockade.”
A disaster that has been severely exacerbated by the Israeli assault which left over 1,300 dead, more injured people than hospitals can manage and the destruction of most of the civilian facilities and infrastructure in the Strip...
Palestine Monitor - Why the Gaza disaster is*(...)
When Isreal pulled out of the West Bank, the the UN and many counties asked them not to destroy any of the infrastructure so that the Palestinians would have something to build on. So Isreal did exactly that.
What did Hamas do?? They destroyed everything themselves after the Isrealis left.
Hamas obviously doesn't want peace - they are obsessive about the destruction of Isreal to the detriment of their own people. How can ANYONE support that?...
The Israeli government intended to raze everything the settlers could not bring with them. Prominent Americans and Jewish groups interested in peace bought the greenhouses from the settlers on behalf of the Palestinians. Everything else was razed.
When the IDF finally pulled out, they didn't coordinate the PA as per the agreement. As a result, the first people to occupy the site were desperately poor Gazans who did commit some acts of looting. That stopped when the authorities arrived. If the authorities had been onsite first that wouldn't have happened. Palestinians claim some greenhouses were sabotaged by the settlers in violation of the agreement. But given the initial looting that claim is hard to prove even though its likely.
Unfortunately the generous puchase of the greenhouses did not include water infrastructure which was razed by the IDF. So the first crop was destroyed by lack of water. Eventually Palestinians repaired the damage, replaced the razed water infrastructure and got the Greenhouses back in production.
When the first crop was ready for market, Israel closed the border. Millions of dollars worth of produce ended up rotting in containers sitting at the border. Since then Israel has consistently closed the borders everytime the greenhouse growers try to export their produce. As a result most operators have gone bankrupt.
Just to make sure that Gazans remain desperate and starving, during the recent Israeli invasion, one of the principal targets was Gaza's ability to produce food. Israel destroyed billions in agricultural infrastructure and poisoned the land rendering it permanently unexploitable for agriculture.
April 13, 2006
Bill Gates secretly paid for Gaza greenhouses
...The hothouses, worth several hundred million dollars, were passed to the Palestinians in September in a $14 million deal brokered by former World Bank President James Wolfenson. According to reports, Wolfenson personally contributed $500,000 of his own money and the rest was ponied up mostly by American Jews, including billionaires Mortimer Zuckerman and Leonard Stern. But an article in Forbes Magazine stated the $29 billion Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation , the world's biggest charity, provided most of the money – $10 million – to purchase the greenhouses...
...According to reports, the greenhouses were looted by gunmen following Israel's withdrawal. Computer equipment and, in some cases, entire greenhouses were stolen. The theft has put out of action about 70 acres of the roughly 1,000 acres left by the Jewish communities, according to Al-Masri.
"The looters took their time to dismantle the greenhouses and to uproot entire greenhouses and carry them away," Amid al-Masri previously told reporters.
Another round of looting struck the greenhouses in February when Fatah gunmen hired to protect the greenhouses abandoned their posts because they had not been paid. Witnesses reported some of the security guards themselves participated in the looting.
As WND reported , Palestinian farmers have had trouble reproducing the bug-free produce previously generated by the Jewish owners. The Palestinian owners reportedly asked the U.S. governmental development group USAID to hire former Jewish Gaza greenhouse owners as consultants for their declining vegetable businesses.
Al-Masri yesterday said the Gaza greenhouses are fully functioning and are producing at full capacity. He also said most of the stolen greenhouse equipment has been recovered by the Palestinian Authority police. His claims could not be independently verified before press time...
Bill Gates secretly paid for Gaza greenhouses
Israel shuts off water, dries Gaza greenhouses
Multimillion dollar deal set to transfer structures to Palestinians
Posted: August 29, 2005
JERUSALEM – After months of intense negotiations recently culminating in a deal allowing for the transfer of Gaza's high-tech Jewish greenhouses to the Palestinians, several former Jewish residents who briefly returned to their farms told WND they were shocked to find most of their produce has died because Israel turned off the water in the area.
"I couldn't believe it. Almost all of my crops are dead, and the rest is dying," Anita Tucker, one of the pioneer farmers of Jewish Gaza told WND. "I hope the Palestinians aren't expecting fresh produce. ... A fortune in crops is now all gone." ...
Israel shuts off water, dries Gaza greenhouses
August 22, 2005
First homes razed in Gaza pullout
Giora and Claudine Chazan’s house was the first to go, torn to pieces by an Israeli mechanical digger painted orange — the colour of the country’s antiwithdrawal movement. That was just one more irony as Israeli soldiers watched Israeli bulldozers destroy an Israeli settlement that had survived a Palestinian intifada.
The Palestinians saw a different irony in the presence of dozens of press and television cameras filming the destruction of one home built in breach of international law when Israeli bulldozers have flattened an estimated 4,600 Arab homes in southern Gaza over recent years....
First homes razed in Gaza pullout - Times Online
Gaza businesses totter as blockade tightens
Globe and Mail Update
September 3, 2007
Gaza City, GAZA STRIP — Waiting in dusty warehouses in this volatile, locked-down stretch of land are 400 containers of furniture representing a lifetime of hard work and investment.
With the militant Islamist group Hamas holding full control of Gaza, after a violent takeover in June, the 1.4 million people living here have seen their border crossings with Egypt and Israel shut down completely – nothing except humanitarian aid coming in, and nothing and no one going out, save those fortunate enough to have foreign passports or residency permits and the permission of Israeli authorities.
And that is deadly news for the few industries that had managed to survive in Gaza's fragile economy....
....“The pillars of Gaza's economy have weakened over the years. Now, with a sustained closure on this current scale, they would be at risk of virtually irreversible collapse,” Faris Hadad-Zervos, the World Bank's acting country director for the West Bank and Gaza, was quoted by Reuters as telling aid groups in a private meeting.
Industry after industry is in trouble: Greenhouse owners despair over whether to plant next season's crop, after the last one rotted at the border. A soft-drink plant in Gaza has been unable to manufacture because owners couldn't get carbon dioxide in from Israel. UN schoolteachers in Gaza feared they would start the year without textbooks for their students because paper couldn't be brought in from Israel to the printers in time.
“The private sector in Gaza now is gone like the wind,” said Mr. Al-Iwaini, who is, at least in name, also the president of Safa Furniture, which had 45 employees until two months ago....
reportonbusiness.com: Gaza businesses totter as blockade tightens
Israel's brutal policies have left most Gazans poor and unable to care for their families. I imagine it must be tough to watch your children go hungry and grow up stunted.
Think this conflict is over? Consider that desperate people do desperate things.
Now comments from the Israeli apologists, for whom subjecting 1.5 million people to disease and malnutrition is always justified: