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More than half of cropland in hungry Gaza is damaged, UN says

June 13, 2024 at 3:28 pm

Israeli attacks on Gaza and the movement of tanks along the border continue on May 30, 2024 in Israel. [Mostafa Alkharouf – Anadolu Agency]

More than half of Gaza’s agricultural land, crucial for feeding the war-ravaged Territory’s hungry population, has been degraded by conflict, satellite images analysed by the United Nations show, Reuters reports.

The data reveals a rise in the destruction of orchards, field crops and vegetables in the Palestinian enclave, where hunger is widespread after eight months of Israeli bombardment.

The World Health Organisation warned on Wednesday that many people in Gaza were facing “catastrophic hunger and famine-like conditions”.

Using satellite imagery taken between May 2017 and 2024, United Nations Satellite Centre (UNOSAT) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) found that 57 per cent of Gaza’s permanent crop fields and arable lands essential for food security had shown a significant decline in density and health.

“In May 2024, crop health and density across the Gaza Strip showed a marked decline compared to the average of the previous seven seasons,” UNOSAT said on Thursday.

“This deterioration is attributed to conflict-related activities, including razing, heavy vehicle movement, bombing and shelling.”

READ: Gaza: When 120 Palestinians were killed by Israel, most were from one family

The decline, UNOSAT said, marked a 30 per cent increase in damaged agricultural land since it published its last analysis in April.

Israel’s ground and air campaign was triggered when Hamas stormed southern Israel on 7 October,  killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

However, since then, it has been revealed by Haaretz that helicopters and tanks of the Israeli army had, in fact, killed many of the 1,139 soldiers and civilians claimed by Israel to have been killed by the Palestinian Resistance.

The offensive has killed more than 37,000 people in Gaza, according to health authorities in the enclave, and has caused mass destruction and cut off routes for aid.

WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on Wednesday there were more than 8,000 children under five years old in Gaza who had been treated for acute malnutrition.

As well as damage to crop fields and orchards, greenhouses across the Gaza Strip had also sustained significant damage, UNOSAT said.

The Gaza Strip has an estimated 151 square kilometres of agricultural land, which makes up about 41 per cent of the coastal enclave’s territory, according to data from UNOSAT.

READ: South Africa pledges $2.7m in humanitarian aid to Gaza