Israeli planes spray toxic herbicides on farmland near Gaza

Israeli planes have reportedly sprayed toxic chemicals and dangerous pesticides on farmland near the Gaza Strip as the Tel Aviv regime continues its acts of aggression against the beleaguered and impoverished Palestinian coastal enclave.

According to the London-based online media Middle East Eye, Israeli warplanes sprayed the area near the fence separating the Gaza Strip from the Israeli-occupied territories for four consecutive days.

The report, citing eyewitnesses, adds that the frequency of the spray is determined by the direction of the wind, and that the spray stops when it rains, or when the wind blows “in the opposite direction”.

“They only start spraying along the fence when the wind is blowing west, towards Palestinian lands, to allow the herbicides to cover a larger area inside our lands,” the official said. Palestinian farmer Youssef Abu Maghadid.

“But when the wind starts blowing east, they stop immediately because it will hurt them.”

Israel’s Ministry of Military Affairs defended the aerial spraying, saying it was necessary to destroy “vegetation that obscures soldiers’ view of the area”.

Maghadid said Israeli authorities have intentionally damaged Palestinian crops in eastern farmland using a variety of tactics over the years.

“We have been living the same scenario for years now, every two weeks they send drones to spray our land to damage the crops so they can monitor the area more clearly.

“Sometimes it happens just a few days before the harvest season… You can imagine the amount of losses we suffer,” said the 47-year-old farmer.

Palestinian farmers also have to contend with constant tear gas fire from Israeli forces deployed along the fence.

Rights groups say that Israel has been carrying out aerial spraying of herbicides near Palestinian farmland for several years, and that the activity is usually carried out “without prior notification or warning to Palestinian farmers”.

Israel carries out the spraying when the wind blows west, which carries the chemicals “deep into Gaza”, reaching distances “up to 1,200 meters in the Strip”, the activists say.

“Since 2014, the clearing and bulldozing of agricultural and residential land by the Israeli military near Gaza’s eastern border has been supplemented by the unannounced aerial spraying of crop-destroying herbicides,” the research group found. Forensic Architecture in 2019.

The London-based agency has spent more than a year examining the environmental and legal implications of Israel’s practice of aerial spraying of herbicides along the Gaza border.

“This ongoing practice has not only destroyed large swaths of once arable land along the fence, but also crops and agricultural land hundreds of meters deep in the Palestinian territory, resulting in the loss of livelihoods for farmers in Gaza,” he said in a statement.

Gaza has been besieged by Israel since June 2007. Around 40,000 Palestinians apparently depend on agriculture as their only source of livelihood in the coastal strip of land.

The situation deteriorated when the Israeli army launched a new attack on Gaza in May 2021. The Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture estimates that the military aggression inflicted a loss of $ 204 million on the agricultural sector in the region .

“We are still grappling with the aftermath of the latest attack on Gaza which has caused us enormous damage from shelling and land leveling, as well as the abandonment of crops throughout the 11 days of the attack. , then dealing with Israel’s decision to close the borders and prevent exports,” said Iyad Abughleba, a local farmer.

“We are not ready for another year in which our agricultural lands will be permanently targeted,” he added.

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