Date and olive harvest in Gaza: Palestinians hard-pressed by Israeli restrictions


October 9, 2019
JFJFP
Gazans struggle to farm their crops under strict border rules that also affect storage and exports

Palestinians pick red dates from palm trees, in Deir al Balah town, the central Gaza Strip

The National reports:

Palestinians in Gaza are busy harvesting dates and olives as the season progresses, but the task has been made difficult by border restrictions and Israeli settlements.

The harvest season of red dates, one of the most important products of the agricultural sector, began at the end of September and is expected to continue until December.  There are 250,000 palm trees in the Gaza Strip but only 150,000 are in season. The annual production of red dates is between 12,000 to 15,000 tonnes .

Farmers, however, are facing regular issues related to the storage and export of their produce in light of border closures and Israeli restrictions.

Olives also play a central role in the occupied Palestinian territories, with the industry providing about one quarter of the territories’ gross agricultural income and supporting about 100,000 families, the UN’s humanitarian affairs office said.  However, the presence of Israeli settlements and restrictions on areas Palestinians are allowed to visit have prevented families in occupied territories from reaching their olive groves.

In the Gaza Strip, there is military activity in areas up to 1.5 kilometres from the perimeter fence with Israel and Palestinian farmers trying to reach the olive trees in the area often have ‘warning shots’ fired at them by Israeli forces , the UN said.

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