Israel sprays toxic herbicides on Palestinian farmland in Gaza


Israeli aircraft on Sunday sprayed herbicides along the border with the Gaza Strip, according to a Palestinian official. "These chemicals cause damage to agricultural crops and harm farmlands," Nizar al-Wahedi of the Palestinian Agriculture Ministry told Anadolu Agency (AA). He said the Palestinian ministry was not aware of the composition of the Israeli chemicals being sprayed on Palestinian lands. "Israel has no right to spray herbicides on Palestinian farmlands," he said.

According to Israeli Gisha NGO, the Israeli spraying operations aim to get rid of unneeded grass along the border with the Palestinian territory.

Some 44,000 Palestinians are working in agriculture, making up around 11 percent of the territory's work force.

Home to nearly 2 million Palestinians, the Gaza Strip has been reeling under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2007. A hospital in the densely populated Gaza has declared that it has completely suspended its services amid the Israeli blockade that has resulted in electricity cuts and a lack of fuel to run generators. Already suffering from shortages, cold weather in Gaza has also increased the demand for electricity and fuel for generators.

Due to the lack of electricity, people predominantly rely on gasoline-fueled generators and solar panels to keep their refrigerators running and to have access to hot water. Considering that oil prices are high due to the blockade, Gazans are in a dire situation. Therefore, hundreds of people engaged in a protest against Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) as international rights groups warn that there might be a total collapse of basic services. With only three hours of electricity available per day, the U.N. warned that half of Gaza's population is in need of humanitarian aid. Israel said it would reduce electricity after the PA limited its payments for power.

Israel waged a devastating 51-day military onslaught on the Gaza Strip in mid-2014 in which more than 2,300 Palestinians were killed and tens of thousands injured. According to Israeli figures, 68 Israeli soldiers and five Israeli civilians were killed in the conflict, while 2,522 others, including 740 soldiers, were injured. After the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel annexed East Jerusalem and deemed the entire city its "indivisible and eternal capital," a status not recognized internationally. Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, and it is now ruled by the Hamas resistance group.

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