[News] Israel forces food to rot in Gaza

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Jul 20 13:45:09 EDT 2021


electronicintifada.net
<https://electronicintifada.net/content/israel-forces-food-rot-gaza/33641>
Israel
forces food to rot in Gaza

Abdallah al-Naami <https://electronicintifada.net/people/abdallah-al-naami> -
20 July 2021
------------------------------

The farm where Ali al-Astal works has been badly affected by Israel’s
restrictions on food transports from Gaza.

Suhaila al-Louh becomes distressed when she sees her nursery farm.
“Something inside me dies every time I go there,” she said.

Israel bombed her nursery – located near the city of Beit Lahiya –
repeatedly during its May attack on Gaza. The seedlings of tomatoes,
cucumbers, peppers and potatoes that Suhaila’s team had planted were
destroyed; so were greenhouses and the irrigation system.

The bombing also brought back extremely painful memories. Israel killed
Suhaila’s husband, Khader, in July 2014, when it subjected Gaza to another
major attack.

Suhaila depends on her modest income from farming to support eight members
of her family.

After the first time that Israel bombed her nursery in May, Suhaila went to
check on it with her sons and their wives.

“We tried to find things that had not been damaged,” she said. “But we
could not find anything.”

“I am 60 years old,” she added. “I have invested everything I could into
developing my business. And in the blink of an eye, everything was
destroyed.”

While most of the images from Gaza broadcast around the world during May
showed Israel targeting urban areas, the plight of farmers must not be
overlooked.
Absurd conditions

A recent report
<https://unsco.unmissions.org/sites/default/files/gaza_rapid_damage_and_needs_assessment_july_2021_1.pdf>
by the European Union, the World Bank and the United Nations cited
estimates that up to $45 million worth of damage was caused to farms and
businesses reliant on agriculture.

Gaza’s agriculture ministry has published even higher figures. It calculated
<https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/16254902691600.pdf>
that more than $200 million worth of losses were incurred – both directly
and indirectly – by the agricultural sector.

Along with bombing farms, Israel prevented the transport of food from Gaza
to the occupied West Bank.

The restrictions
<https://gisha.org/en/crossings-update-fuel-coming-in-for-gazas-power-plant-fishing-zone-restricted-to-9-nautical-miles/>
imposed in May were not lifted until late June.

And that lifting came with absurd conditions.

Israel insisted that stems had to be removed from tomatoes. Otherwise, they
would not be allowed through Kerem Shalom, the Israeli-controlled crossing
for goods entering and leaving Gaza.

Israel’s stipulation – which placed extra costs on tomato growers and
reduced the shelf life of their produce – was subsequently dropped
<https://www.ochaopt.org/content/response-escalation-opt-situation-report-no-6-25-june-1-july-2021>.
Israel has, however, threatened to reintroduce it in August.

Absurd rules imposed by Israel have increased costs for Gaza’s tomato
growers.
Abdallah al-Naami

Ahmad al-Astal runs a 50 acre farm in the Khan Younis area of southern Gaza.

Growing potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers, he usually sells his
produce to the West Bank.

Yet for several recent weeks, Israel blocked him from transporting any
crops out of Gaza.

“Our storage facilities are full of rotting vegetables,” he said. “We’ve
stopped picking crops and now all you can see are piles of rotting
vegetables everywhere.”
“No choice”

It was not economically viable to sell his produce within Gaza. Due to
Israel’s transport restrictions, there was a glut of produce inside Gaza.

Prices at local markets slumped as a result.

“Picking the crop and transporting it to the market cost me more than what
I eventually gain when I sell it in the market,” Ahmad said. “So I have no
choice but to leave the crop in storage, hoping that we will be able to
sell it outside Gaza again before long.”

Ahmad had to cut his workforce from 70 to just seven.

Ali al-Astal, one of his staff, said: “Normally, you would see the workers
roaming through the greenhouses, taking care of the plants and picking the
crops. But now our work is just getting rid of the rotting vegetables.”

Israel’s restrictions had a marked effect on Gaza’s fishers and its
aquaculture sector.

Yasser al-Haaj is the owner of al-Bahhar fish farm.

Each month around 30 tonnes of fish are transported from Gaza to the West
Bank, he has stated.

More than 18,000 fish are estimated
<https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=143315007864873> to have died in Gaza’s
fish farms because of Israel’s restrictions.

Israel damaged solars panels used by al-Bahhar, a fish farm, during its May
assault on Gaza.
Abdallah al-Naami

Recent months have been disastrous for al-Haaj.

Not only were solar panels and tanks at his fish farm damaged during
Israel’s attack, but he was unable to sell in the West Bank, a vital market
for him.

“Gaza’s markets cannot absorb the amount of fish we produce,” he said.
“When exports stopped, we could not sell our fish so we had to keep them in
the tanks. Each tank now has around three times the amount of fish it can
usually contain. And the fish have started to die. Our losses are
increasing every day.”

*Abdallah al-Naami is a journalist and photographer living in Gaza.*
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