Gaza's Agricultural Sector loses and damages exceed $550 million
September 7, 2014 at 10:46 am

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Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture and Palestinian NGOs Network announcedSaturday that according to the preliminary estimates "the agricultural sector's losses and damages in the Gaza Strip exceeded $550 million including $350 direct damages and losses and $200 million indirect losses due to the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip that lasted for 51 days and ended on August 26th .

The Palestinian NGOs Network PNGO and the Agricultural Ministry said in a joint press conference held Saturday in Gaza's sea harbor, " The direct losses and damages caused by the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip to the agriculture and the agricultural production hit $200.4 million."

The representatives of the Agricultural Ministry; members of the PNGO's Agricultural Sector and members of Fishermen Syndicate, participated in the press conference.

The press conference stated, ''During the 7-week aggression on the Gaza Strip, the Israeli occupation directly targeted more than half of the agricultural areas which exceeds 14.000 acres whereas the rest agricultural areas were damaged in one way or another due to the drought and the inability to access them."

Director-General of Policy and Planning at the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture, Nabil Abu Shammala said, "the losses and damages hit the animal production exceeded $ 70.8 million whereas the losses of the soil and water sectors exceeded $ 68.2 million along with $10 million for the fisheries sector, meanwhile the losses of stored crops hit $1.16 million."

He stated that damages of the agricultural sector vary between the direct targeting of the agricultural lands such as citrus, olives, and other fruits groves and greenhouses as well as bare planting groves.

The damages also included the targeting of animal production facilities such as farms of chicken, cows, goats and sheep as well as beehives. Meanwhile, fishing boats and fishermen rooms that contained motors and fishing nets were also Israeli occupation's targets.

Abu Shammala affirmed " the Israeli occupation targeted water wells, roof water tanks, rainwater harvesting cisterns and water carrier lines, in addition to that it destroyed the agricultural lands and stroke and completely razed the agricultural soils located along the eastern border lines which were about 34.500 acres of agricultural lands."

The Director-General pointed out "the estimate of indirect casualties as a result of the high cost of alternative opportunities and the disruption of labor in the agricultural sector caused by the Israeli occupation's aggression on the Gaza Strip, hit $ 200 million."

Abu Shammala, meanwhile, stated "Khan Yunis governorate was the most affected among the rest governorates with an estimate loss of $ 79 million, followed by Gaza governorate $60 million and northern Gaza Strip governorates with an estimate of $ 48.5 million."

Abu Shammala warned that one of the most outstanding results of the Israeli barbaric war on Gaza is the cute shortage of the locally produced agricultural crops and the resulted high costs of these products, which threat the population of the Gaza Strip with food insecurity of which the besieged Gaza Strip had already been suffering before the war.

According to earlier reports indicated that half of the population in the Gaza Strip suffering of food insecurity.

Mohamed Bakri, Coordinator of the Agricultural Sector in the Palestinian NGOs Network and Director of the Union Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), denounced the large scale of the Israeli occupation's destruction to the Palestinian infrastructure which is a violation to the international norms and laws as well as the human and moral values.

Bakri stated that "the Israeli occupation intentionally and intensively targeted and bombed the agricultural lands and facilities from land, sky and sea, and the casualties caused to agriculture lands such as citrus, olives, fruits and vegetables, as well as the casualties of farms of each cows, goats and sheep as well as beehives and fishing boats are clear evidences for that."

Bakri added, " The Palestinian are now before a serious task of finding a way to resolve the crisis created by the Israeli aggression on Gaza. They have to exert efforts to rebuild the Gaza Strip and build a Palestinian economy that can withstand the Israeli occupation and resist it."

He called to form a national committee of professionals to involve all official and civil parties as well as the private sector to work together to rebuild the agricultural sector under the umbrella of the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture.

Bakri stated that the process of the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip must be conducted within a Palestinian national developmental vision that will take into account all the variables. He demanded to set the issue of Gaza's reconstruction among the Palestinian Authority's priorities and allocate a reasonable budget for the agricultural sector.

Bakri stressed on the importance to speed up the efforts to begin the process of the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip and establish priorities within the national plan agreed upon by all parties including the official, civil parties and private sector, to take into account supporting and helping the farmers and the fishermen each to return back to their farms and the sea so as to activate the production process.

He pointed out , the most priorities of the agricultural sector is the reconstruction of the water wells to provide people with needed water supplies and rehabilitate the greenhouses to provide the needed amount of vegetables.

Bakri added, "Among the priorities also the rehabilitation of the fishing boats and providing the fishermen with necessarily needed fishing equipments, providing feed and veterinary services, rehabilitation of poultry farms, and providing the necessary assistance for increasing the production, providing housing and shelters for farmers whose houses Israel destroyed during the aggression."

Bakri demanded the international community including its human rights and humanitarian organizations to take immediate and serious action to put pressure on the Israeli occupation's authorities to respect the international treaties and conventions and stop offensive against the Palestinian people.

He also demanded to end the unjust siege of the Gaza Strip and open all Gaza Strip crossings to allow people and goods to cross from and into the Gaza Strip as well as to allow the reconstruction materials.