AL QARARA, GAZA STRIP // Gaza farmers have begun growing mint, basil and coriander, saying such herbs can serve as a remedy for some of the blockaded territory’s economic woes.
The economy has struggled since Hamas seized control in 2007, triggering severe restrictions on trade and movement by Israel and Egypt. More than 70 per cent of Gaza’s 1.7 million people receive humanitarian aid, and nearly 33 per cent are jobless.
We had a meeting with some leaders in the Gaza commercial fishing industry, to hear their stories and see if or how we can assist them.
Fishermen in Gaza City (Photo by Kevin Neish)
Gaza Strip fishers have historically been some of the poorest families here, especially as many are not refugees, and so do not receive UN assistance. Their lot has been made that much worse with the attacks and restrictions imposed on them by the Israeli forces. Since the July Egyptian coup, the Israelis have ignored the Nov 2012 ceasefire that was brokered by the previous Morsi Egyptian government. There’s been a sad litany of recent violations against Palestinian fishers:
the arbitrary reduction of the fishing area from six nautical miles to five.
the Israelis are now holding weekly military exercises within Palestinian waters. Yesterday morning activists watched as an Israeli gunboat cruised along, only 500 meters off the coast of Gaza City.
Farming in the Gaza Strip’s “buffer zone” is hazardous under the best circumstances. Israeli troops routinely shoot live ammunition at Palestinian farmers in the free-fire area, which stretches hundreds of meters into the besieged territory from the barrier separating it and Israel, and invade their fields with tanks and bulldozers.
Civilians in Gaza continue to suffer from Israel’s restrictive buffer zone
By Ghada Snunu
60-year-old Abu Te’mah, a farmer in Gaza, says there are parts of his land he cannot reach, despite Israeli announcements about easing the "buffer zone" after the November 2012 ceasefire. (Photo: Ghada Snunu)
[Tuesday August 6, 2013] Local sources have reported that several armored Israeli military vehicles and military bulldozers, carried out a limited invasion into the Al-Boreij refugee camp, in central Gaza, and uprooted farmlands.
Saber Al-Zaneen, coordinator of farmers in Beit Hanoun (north Gaza Strip), explains how difficult it is for famers to work in that area, the desproportional violence they have to face daily and the danger they are exposed with no reason.