Before the summer war in Gaza began, two thirds of the population in Gaza was receiving food assistance, since then it has increased by 700,000 people, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FOA). In August, while Gaza was still involved in the skirmishes, it is estimated that half of all poultry had gone missing. It is still unknown whether they were killed by a bomb that hit their shelter, died from starvation or are still wondering around somewhere. Also unaccounted for was 17,000 acres of cropland and agricultural infrastructure. Any crops that had not been harvested by early July were lost, when farmers had no choice but to flee their lands due to the bombing in the surrounding area. This affected about 3,600 families that relied on agricultural for their survival. Unfortunately, it was even worse in the cities because Hamas was launching attacks from hospitals, schools and apartment building using innocent Gaza residents as human shields.
(A Palestinian man takes his sheep to market on the eve of the Id al-Adha feast. Photo by AFP)
Although The Palestinian economy had entered into a recession before the summer war, in a World Bank report 70 percent of people were already living off of only $2 a day. Gaza’s already struggling economy took a huge hit after this summer’s attacks and agricultural loss. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture, the losses sustained by the agricultural sector reached roughly $500MM, including $350MM in direct losses.
“The recent conflict has had a severe impact on Gaza’s economy in all sectors, in addition to the tragic humanitarian losses,” Jorgensen said. “Within this fragile sociopolitical context, economic recovery becomes a priority.”
Growing up in a town where agriculture was one of the primary sources of income for many of the residents I understand how devastating this loss is for not only the farmers but the Palestinians that relied on the food to survive. I worked on farm this summer can not even imagine how hard it must have been for those farmers to abandon all their hard work and livelihoods. It takes years to construct a successful farm, preparing the soil, planting seeds, some take several years before anything is even produced. So much time, preparation and hard work was lost.
Without the agricultural sector so many more Palestinians are going hungry, for many of the uneducated farmers that had to flee, work is difficult to find. What is being done to help the Palestinian people of Gaza who have lost everything? When will Hamas stop lobbing bombs into Israel so that this conflict can end?