Israeli military on Thursday admitted claims made by Palestinian farmers that it had been destroying their agricultural crops close to the fence that separates the Gaza Strip from Israel.
The Israeli military confirmed in a written statement to Anadolu Agency (AA) that it had sprayed a herbicide that “will cause the surrounding vegetation to wilt and prevent its growth.”
The statement also said the reason for spraying the crops was “to prevent the concealment of IED's [Improvised Explosive Devices], and to disrupt and prevent the use of the area for destructive purposes.”
Last week, Palestinian farmers near the security fence with Israel complained that Israeli jets had many times flown over to spray something that was wiping out their crops.
Approximately 3,000 square metres of crops were destroyed, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture.
A spike in violence since October has killed 142 Palestinians and 25 Israelis or foreigners, in the occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, but there have also been some incidents in Gaza near the boundary with Israel.
At least 20 Gazans have been shot dead by Israeli forces during demonstrations near the border, as Palestinian news agency Ma'an had recently reported cases of Gazan farmers being shot by Israeli soldiers while working land.
Israel has also reported incidents of shooting toward army patrols coming from Gaza and explosives being planted by the fence.
Gaza, has been under the control of Palestinian resistance movement Hamas since 2007, as it suffers an Egyptian-Israeli blockade.
After Egypt’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi was ousted by the country’s army, Egyptian authorities have kept the Rafah border gate sealed, which is the only available crossing from Gaza to the outside world that is not controlled by Israel.
Due to the blockade almost 2 million Gazan residents lack life-sustaining supplies, including food, fuel and medicine.