Monday, April 6, 2009

Lost in the Buffer Zone

By Eva Bartlett

"KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza, Apr 6 (IPS) - "They're always shooting at us. Every day they shoot at us," says Alaa Samour (19), pulling aside his shirt to show a scar on his shoulder. Samour said he was shot on Dec. 28 last year by Israeli soldiers positioned along the border fence near New Abassan village, east of Khan Younis in the south of the Gaza Strip......

At the end of Israel's three weeks of attacks on Gaza December-January which left more than 1,450 dead and over 5,000 injured, many critically so, Israeli authorities declared an expansion of the 'buffer zone' into what they dubbed a no-go zone expropriating yet more land from farmers and civilians in the area.

Prior to the attacks on Gaza, PARC reported that of the 175,000 dunams (42,000 acres) (1 dunam is 1,000 square metres) of cultivable land in the Gaza Strip, 50,000 dunams (12,000 acres) had been damaged by the Israeli army. These are the most fertile and productive agricultural areas, the 'food basket' areas, the group reports. Following the attacks on Gaza, international bodies put the amount of destroyed land much higher: 60,000-75,000 dunams of farmland they say is now damaged or unusable.

In early February, the Guardian reported on the severe hit to Gaza's agricultural sector. The article quoted representatives of the World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) as saying that anywhere from 35 percent to 60 percent of the agriculture industry was destroyed by Israel's attacks on Gaza, much of it not useable again due to the damage....."

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