Israel forces food to rot in Gaza

Gaza tomato-growing

Abdallah al-Naami reports in The Electronic Intifada:

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 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 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 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.

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