Gaza: systematical and deliberate destruction of agricultural land and infrastructure

Featured image: Al-Bureij Camp in 2022 (left) and in 2024 (right). Buildings and agricultural land has been destroyed as part of the IDF buffer zone. Source: 2022: Google Earth / 2024: Planet Labs PBC

According to recent analysis of satellite images, 38 to 48 percent of tree cover and agricultural land has been destroyed since the 7th of October last year. In the satellite images it can be seen that olive groves and farmland has returned to desert. Around 40-48 percent of the tree crops in Gaza are damaged and 23 percent of greenhouses are completely destroyed.

23% of greenhouses in Gaza are completely destroyed, and 40-48% of tree crops are damaged. Source: The Guardian

1.9 million people, 85 percent of the total population of Gaza have been forcefully internally displaced. If peasants who have been driven from they lands are able to return, they might be met with the sight of their land in ruins.

The Abu Suffiyeh family who has been cultivating their land in north-eastern Gaza for the past decade has been displaced to the south. Their farm has now been destroyed, their orchards have been uprooted and replaced with military earthworks and a new road is running through it. A member of the family explains the destruction: “There is almost nothing to recognize there, … No traces of the land we knew. They totally erased it. … It is now the same as it was before: desert … There is no single tree there. No traces of prior life. If I was to go there, I wouldn’t be able to recognize it.”

We have previously reported that the State of Israel shot at peasants working the fields during the ceasefire in last November. One peasant was murdered and another was wounded by the Israeli gunfire. Also during the ceasefire the State of Israel opened fire at displaced Palestinians to stop them from returning to northern Gaza, murdering two and wounding 11 people with direct fire from assault rifles.

Before the 7th of October agricultural land accounted for 47 percent of the land area of Gaza, about 170 square kilometers. The lower estimation is that the Israeli military has destroyed more than 65 square kilometers of this land. More than 7.500 greenhouses have also been a vital part of the agriculture in Gaza. Now almost a third of them are completely destroyed. In northern Gaza up to 90 percent of the greenhouses are destroyed, and around Khan Younis around 40 percent have been destroyed.

Samaneh Moafi, assistant director of research of the London based research group Forensic Architecture (FA), describes the destruction as systematic. She says that researchers have documented the same process in multiple locations: first the area is damaged by aerial bombardment, then ground troops arrive and dismantle greenhouses completely, while tractors, tanks and other vehicles uproot orchards and fields of crops.

We have previously reported on the IDF demolishing buildings in Gaza to create a buffer zone. Israeli media now reports more information about this. According to the reports, the State of Israel is making a one kilometer wide buffer zone along its entire border to Gaza, destroying any building within it. The buffer zone will encompass 16 percent of the territory of Gaza.

In several places the destruction reaches around 1,200 meters from the border fence. This is another example of the genocidal crimes the State of Israel is committing. They are not destroying targets they claim are used for military purposes, they destroy everything in this area in a systematical and planned way. The buffer zone contains much of the agricultural land of Gaza as well as greenhouses, solar panels and many residential structures. The IDF plans on strictly enforcing the buffer and will shoot at anyone who crosses the line.

In addition to the buffer zone, the IDF has made a control corridor cutting Gaza in two. According to the reports, this is intended for allowing quick military access inside Gaza, and for controlling the movement of Palestinians between northern and southern Gaza. With the control corridor the State of Israel seeks to prevent those who have been forcefully displaced from northern Gaza from returning to their homes and their lands. The corridor also serves the ongoing genocide by giving the State of Israel greater control of supplies entering northern Gaza.

The IDF is making a buffer zone containing 16% of the territory of Gaza as well as a control corridor cutting off northern Gaza. Source: Haaretz

In addition to direct Israeli destruction of agricultural land, the tens of thousands of bombs that the State of Israel has dropped on Gaza during the last months is likely to cause long term contamination of soil and groundwater, according to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). As of January, UNEP estimated that the bombing of Gaza had left 22.9 million tons of debris and hazardous material, with much of the rubble containing human remains.

UNEP also reports that because of the Israeli blockade of fuel, treatment plans can not pump wastewater, leading to 100,000 cubic meters of sewage a day spewing into the sea. This further disrupts the food production on Gaza, which fishing is an important part of.

This destruction shows that the genocidal use of starvation as a weapon of war by the State of Israel, does not only consist of failing to provide the necessary supplies to the population under its occupation and blocking other parties from delivering these supplies. They have purposefully and systematically destroyed large parts of the agricultural lands and infrastructure, directly and deliberately creating the imminent famine in Gaza.

The current genocidal campaign of the State of Israel is only part of a long history of struggle of the Palestinian people for their lands and their sovereignty. Last Saturday, the 30th of March, marked the Land Day, an important day for the struggle of land of the Palestinian people, commemorating the popular struggle that thwarted an Israeli project to confiscate large amounts of land owned by Palestinians, 48 years ago. Six people gave their life in this struggle, killed by Israeli troops. We have previously reported on activities on this years Land Day:

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