World Bulletin/News Desk
Around 80 percent of farmers and 40 percent of fishermen in the Gaza Strip lost their farms and jobs as a result of the latest Israeli war on the Palestinian territory, a Palestinian Agriculture Ministry official said Monday.
The Palestinian government will check the soil of farmland in the strip in cooperation with the United Nations, Abdullah Lahloh, an undersecretary at the Ministry of Agriculture in the Palestinian national unity government, told Anadolu Agency in an interview, noting that around 5,000 tons of explosives were dropped on Gaza's farmland during Israel's 51-day war, which ended on August 26.
"This will reduce farmland productivity, as well as [contribute to] the emergence of epidemic diseases," Lahloh said.
He said the Gaza Strip should have sent its first shipments of fresh fish and agricultural produce to the occupied West Bank on Monday – for the first time since 2007.
Lahloh added that the closure by Israel of the Kerem Shalom crossing between the Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank had prevented Gaza's farmers and fishermen from sending their commodities to the West Bank.
Lahloh said the Gaza Strip was 70 percent self-sufficient when it came to vegetables and 25 percent self-sufficient in terms of fruit.
Quoting a government report, Lahloh added that losses sustained by Gaza's agriculture sector from the war amounted to a staggering $550 million.
"This figure might rise in coming days due to the large amounts of explosives dropped on farmland," Lahloh said.
He said more than 80 percent of Gaza's farmers had lost their farmland because of the war, while more than 40 percent of the strip's fishermen had lost their jobs as a result of the bombing of fishing ports.
Statistics indicate that around 20,000 Gazan families earn a living from agriculture, while around 3,600 families earn their living from fishing. There are reports that as many as 17,000 Gaza fishermen lost their jobs during the latest Israeli offensive.
Israel launched its offensive in early July with the ostensible aim of defanging resistance movements in the Gaza Strip. The operation, however, left 2,157 Palestinians dead and more than 11,000 others injured.
Thousands of Gaza's homes and public utilities were also leveled in the assault.
Lahloh said damage caused by the Israeli war to Gaza's agricultural land would need some $380 million to repair.
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