Israel’s 11-day assault on Gaza has destroyed livestock fodder and fishing farms, leaving Palestinians who depend on them for their livelihood vulnerable and adding to food insecurity in the region.

Palestinian farmers are seen in a field as Israeli military bulldozers destroy the area by crossing the Gaza border nearly 100 metres from the Israeli side, east of Gaza City on April 21, 2021.
Palestinian farmers are seen in a field as Israeli military bulldozers destroy the area by crossing the Gaza border nearly 100 metres from the Israeli side, east of Gaza City on April 21, 2021. (AA)

Fierce Israeli shelling in Gaza has destroyed farms, leaving residents who depend on them for their livelihood vulnerable, and increased food insecurity in the region.

The Palestinian Ministry of Agriculture has said destruction resulted in a severe shortage of animal fodder, resulting in increasing animal deaths and a possible collapse of the sector.

OCHA's department on Occupied Palestinian Territory also said in a statement on May 21 that "water, sanitation, and electric infrastructure were severely damaged during the escalation" in Gaza.

"Sheep and cattle breeders are coping by feeding the animals less, compromising production," OCHA said.

Agriculture is one of the three main sectors that contribute to employment in the besieged coastal enclave with more than 30 percent of the population living below the poverty line.

Israel's assault on Gaza started on May 10 and killed at least 253 Palestinians.

READ MORE: Israel stalls entry of some aid trucks into battered Gaza

Debris from an Israeli air strike ruins the family farm of Associated Press journalist Fares Akram in northern Gaza on May 14, 2021.
Debris from an Israeli air strike ruins the family farm of Associated Press journalist Fares Akram in northern Gaza on May 14, 2021. (AP)

Lifelines cut, hopes shattered

Israel's 11-day bombing campaign destroyed at least 2,000 buildings while 15,000 buildings became unusable, according to the Gaza-based Palestinian Ministry of Labor and Housing. 

The latest levels of devastation added to the woes of a population unable to even cross over to other Palestinian territories to buy basic goods or materials needed for repairs.

Gaza resident Iyad al Attar's fish farm in the northern town of Beit Lahiya was completely destroyed in an Israeli air strike.

The farm was the 46-year-old Palestinian's only source of income and a lifeline for him and his family of 10 children.

"We are astounded by the destruction of our farm and our fish for no reason,” Attar said. 

"We were waiting for the fish season this year to repay our debts and treat one of my sons so that he could have children. Our hopes are all shattered now."

The damage to the farm caused Attar an estimated $35,000 material loss, including the loss of 5,000 kilograms of tilapia fish which were blown up and scattered everywhere.

Attar and his son worked to remove dead fish and debris from inside the water tanks, and save some of the surviving fish by moving them to another clean basin.

READ MORE: Gaza rising from the ashes: The cycle of construction and destruction

Harvest wasted

Palestinian farmer Suhail al Masri was waiting impatiently for the peaches on his farm to grow ripe, and just as they began to, Israeli air strikes rained down on his town.

During that time, Masri was unable to reach his groves near the Israeli broder in Khan Younis, southern Gaza.

He could not irrigate the land or collect the harvest, leading to losses that "have exceeded $100,000," he says.

The juicy fruit would have generated a good income for the Gazan farmer and this year, he was expecting the 12.4 acres of land to yield a generous harvest.

Instead, 80 percent of the harvest has gone rotten, says Ashraf al Amour, one of the workers on the farm.

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Costs of the attacks

At least 253 Palestinians, including 66 children, were killed, and more than 1,900 others wounded in 11 days of massive Israeli attacks on Gaza, according to Palestinian health authorities. 

Israeli officials say at least 13 people were killed in rocket fire from Gaza. 

Israel’s attacks on Gaza follow spiking tensions in occupied Jerusalem during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Israeli police deployed heavy-handed tactics against Palestinian worshippers in and around Al Aqsa Mosque in the last week of the holy month, after which the Hamas government in Gaza launched rocket attacks.

Gaza’s rockets are mostly repurposed handmade weapons in comparison to Israel’s military might, which gets over $16 billion for defence spending and $3.8 billion from the US annually for a 10-year period.

The Israeli attacks, the fiercest in years, came to a halt on Friday under an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire.

READ MORE: Ceasefire in Gaza, but flame continues to burn in Sheikh Jarrah

Source: TRTWorld and agencies