Middle East

Gaza: Israeli planes spray chemicals, ruin farmland

Palestinian officials say harmful pesticides killed off crops and caused large losses to farmers

Gaza: Israeli planes spray chemicals, ruin farmland

GAZA CITY, Palestine

The Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture in Gaza said that crops near the border with Israel were ruined after Israeli planes sprayed them with harmful chemicals.

The ministry said the losses affected approximately 3,000 square meters of crops.

Wael Thabit, a senior official at the ministry, told Anadolu Agency that Israeli planes sprayed pesticide along the eastern border of Gaza, especially in Deir al-Balah and Khan Yunis.

The harmful pesticides killed off crops, including beans, peas, wheat, barley and spinach, according to Thabit.

A Gazan farmer told Anadolu Agency on the condition of anonymity that Israeli planes have sprayed harmful pesticides for four straight days this week. 

Gaza, which has been ruled by Palestinian resistance movement Hamas since 2007, lacks basic infrastructure and is subject to an Egyptian-Israeli blockade.

Since the 2013 coup against Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, Egyptian authorities have kept the Rafah border crossing -- Gaza's only gate to the outside world that is not under Israeli control -- tightly sealed.

The ongoing closure of the Rafah crossing has served to deprive the Gaza Strip’s roughly 1.9 million inhabitants of vital commodities, including food, fuel and medicine.

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