[News] Gaza - "Now we have nothing left"

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Wed May 28 11:10:13 EDT 2008


"Now we have nothing left"
Report, PCHR, 28 May 2008


"They came at four in the morning with two bulldozers, and they left 
before 8:00am. I own this chicken farm with my three brothers, and we 
worked day and night for 18 years to build up our business. The 
Israelis destroyed everything in less than four hours."

Nasser Jaber's chicken farm was bulldozed by the Israeli Occupation 
Forces (IOF) 10 days ago, in the early morning hours of 16 May, while 
he was sleeping at home in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. He 
still looks stunned. Wearily, he guides us round the ruins of his 
18-year business. "This was a lifetime project for me and my 
brothers" he says as we clamber over rubble, wire, shattered sheets 
of metal and thousands of putrefying chickens. "I have never belonged 
to any political faction, and I have never been to jail. I don't know 
why they did this." The farm workers who are starting to clear some 
of the rubble are all wearing facemasks. Forty-thousand dead chickens 
lie smashed amidst the rubble and the stench is sickening.

When his workers raised the alarm that the chicken farm was being 
bulldozed, Nasser Jaber didn't rush out to the farm, but stayed at 
home, waiting until the Israelis had finally left. "It would have 
been too dangerous to come to the farm while they were destroying 
everything," he says. "This is not the first time the Israelis have 
been here. The [Israeli] border is only two and a half kilometers 
away, and they invade this area every month. They had already 
destroyed one of our walls, and then the water tanks. But nothing 
like this." One section of the chicken farm, a large barn containing 
9,000 chickens, was spared the attack, though Nasser Jaber says the 
poultry are traumatized, and laying few eggs. The farm used to 
produce 45,000 eggs a day -- now production is down to 2,000 eggs per 
day, and Nasser Jaber is worried the Israelis may return to finish 
off what's left of his farm. He estimates that between them, he and 
his brothers have already lost more than a million dollars. "I am a 
peaceful farmer," he says. "But they destroy our homes, our land -- 
everything."

Abdul Halim Abu Samra, Head of Public Relations at the nearby Khan 
Younis branch of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), says 
the IOF are systematically destroying farm land in the Gaza Strip, 
especially in border areas. "We have good fertile agricultural land 
in Gaza, but Palestinian farmers have been driven off their land in 
these border areas by intimidation and attacks like this. The land is 
now almost empty a kilometer before the eastern border, because it is 
too dangerous for people to live and work there."

As we drive north east towards Sofa Crossing (one of the five 
crossings between Gaza and Israel) we see very few people, only an 
occasional elderly man leading a donkey and cart. These rural eastern 
border areas of the Gaza Strip are emptying, because farmers, many of 
whom have farmed here for generations, are now too frightened to live 
and work on their own land. The confines of the Gaza Strip, which is 
just 40 kilometers long and 10 kilometers wide, are being shrunk even 
further by relentless Israeli invasions.

The deliberate destruction of civilian property is illegal under 
international human rights law and humanitarian law, including the 
Fourth Geneva Convention (Articles 33 and 53). Since the beginning of 
the second Intifada in September 2000, PCHR has documented the 
deliberate destruction of more than 40,000 donums (one donum is 
equivalent to 1,000 square meters) of agricultural land in the Gaza 
Strip. This year alone, almost 3,000 donums of agricultural land 
around Rafah and Khan Younis have been destroyed by the Israeli 
military (including 500 donums in the last seven days), ruining 
vegetable allotments and family owned farms, and contributing to the 
devastating economic destruction of the Gaza Strip.

Fifteen kilometers away from the remains of Nasser Jaber's chicken 
farm, Mohammed Hamdan Abu Daggah standings amidst the ruins of his 
cement factory, which lies four kilometers from Sofa Crossing, and 
was bulldozed by the IOF three days ago, on 24 May. "I started this 
business in January 2007," he says. "My family invested everything in 
this factory. We managed to import good equipment under license, and 
we had lots of work from local clients, and the United Nations here 
in Gaza. But the Israelis arrived in three bulldozers, and they tore 
up everything." Abu Daggah's factory was employing 40 local men who 
now have no jobs. Like Nasser Jaber, Abu Daggah says he has no idea 
why his business was targeted. "I have never been in any trouble and 
have never been arrested. They had absolutely no reason to do this -- 
but now we have nothing left, except heavy debts that we cannot 
afford to pay."

This report is part of the <http://pchrgaza.ps/>Palestinian Centre 
for Human Rights' Narratives Under Siege series.



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