Middle East Monitor / January 22, 2021
The Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture announced on Thursday that Israel had vented its dams for rainwater harvesting, leading to the flooding of farmlands near the Gaza Strip’s eastern borders and the destruction of vast agricultural areas.
Israel has built several dams to collect and use rainwater and vents it without warning when large quantities of water accumulate during the winter, causing damage to the Gaza Strip’s farm and agricultural lands.
Ahmed Fatayer, director of the ministry’s branch in Gaza, disclosed that Israel: “Has opened the rainwater dams east of the Shuja’iyya neighbourhood in the east of the Gaza Strip, which led to flooding hundreds of dunams [one dunam equals 1,000 metres] of agricultural land.”
In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, Fatayer indicated that Palestinian farmers have suffered “great losses and direct and indirect damage” due to the sudden venting of dams.
He pointed out that Israel has been venting the dams and flooding agricultural land belonging to Palestinian citizens in recent years.
Salem Quta, one of the affected farmers, conveyed that the Palestinian landowners have suffered significant losses due to the flooding of their agricultural areas.
“About 400 dunams were directly flooded with water, while 150 dunams were indirectly damaged by the flow of rainwater,” Quta told Anadolu Agency.
The farmer explained that the flooding of agricultural lands occurred when the crops he was growing during recent months were about to ripen.
Quta confirmed that in addition to flooding agricultural areas, Israel also: “Sprays chemical pesticides on the crops, which ends up destroying them, in addition to clearing the land.”
He called on human rights organisations and institutions to stand with the Palestinian farmers and support them to resist these violations.