Waterless in Gaza

One of many destroyed water wells in Gaza’s border regions.

Via the Electronic Intifada, here is the opening section of a reportage on the situation in the Gaza strip. You can read the full article here.

Israel bombs Gaza’s agricultural sector to the brink

Eva Bartlett, The Electronic Intifada, 15 February 2010

“If we didn’t get the wheat planted today, we would not have had crops this year,” says Abu Saleh Abu Taima, eyeing the two Israeli military jeeps parked along the border fence east of Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip. Although his land is more than 300 meters away, technically outside of the Israeli-imposed “buffer zone,” Abu Taima has reason to be wary.

“They shot at us yesterday. I was here with my wife and nephews.”

Like many farmers along Gaza’s eastern and northern borders, Abu Taima has been delayed planting by the absence of water and the threat from Israeli soldiers along the border.

With most of Gaza’s border region wells, cisterns and water lines destroyed by Israeli forces during last winter’s attacks, farmers have been largely left with no option but to wait for heavier rains.

“Israeli soldiers started intensively bulldozing the land in 2003. But they finished the job in the last war on Gaza,” says Hamdan Abu Taima, owner of 30 dunams (1 dunam is approximate to 1,000 square meters) dangerously close to the buffer zone.

Nasser Abu Taima has 15 dunams of land nearby. Another 15 dunams lie inaccessibly close to the border, rendered off-limits by the Israeli military. “My well was destroyed in the last Israeli war on Gaza. Five years ago I had hothouses for tomatoes, a house here, many trees. It’s all gone. Now I just plant wheat if I can. It’s the simplest.”

Nasser points out the rubble of his home, harvests some ripe cactus fruit and shakes his head. “Such a shame. Such a waste. I knew every inch of this area. Now, I feel sick much of the time because I cannot access my land. And I’ve got 23 in my family to provide for.”

Israel imposed the “buffer zone” along Gaza’s side of the internationally-recognized “Green Line” boundary nearly ten years ago. Israeli bulldozers continue to raze decades-old olive and fruit trees, farmland and irrigation piping, and demolish homes, greenhouses, water wells and cisterns, farm machinery and animal shelters.

Extending from Gaza’s most northwestern to southeastern points, the unclearly-marked buffer zone annexes more land than the 300 meters flanking the border. Israeli authorities say anyone found within risks being shot at by Israeli soldiers. At least 13 Palestinian civilians have been killed and 39 injured in border regions in and outside of the buffer zone since the 18 January end of Israel’s attacks last year, among them children and women.

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