While considering himself lucky that his home has endured no direct impact from the recent fighting, one Gazan farmer lamented the fact that the region’s agricultural fields had all but turned into a wasteland.
Unlike those of many of his neighbors, the farmer’s home and lands encountered no harm from the air raids or ground incursions that have taken place since the beginning of Operation Protective Edge, he told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday night. Nonetheless, with no electricity or water available, as well as the risks associated with working in an open field, he said he had to all but abandon his crops.
“There is a lot of damage,” he said.
As per the farmer’s request, and in order to protect his security at home, the Post elected to withhold his name and exact location.
Few people have been able to reach their farms to tend to them during the conflict, and harvests this season will only be minimal, he explained. Particularly affected were strawberry nurseries, which suffered from the lack of water, he added.
“This is a bad season for the farmers,” he said.
On the Israeli side of the border, farmers located within the Gaza periphery and other southern towns have also experienced heavy losses due to their widespread inability to work their fields under rocket fire.
The government, through the Tax Authority and the Agriculture Ministry, have launched new compensation programs for farmers located within a 40-kilometer radius of Gaza to receive payments for their losses.
It remains unclear as to whether the Palestinian Authority’s Agriculture Ministry or that of Hamas in Gaza will be providing any such compensation for Gazan farmers.
The Gazan farmer who spoke with the Post said he has about 1 hectare of farming land, while his family has about 10 hectares in total. Although he has stayed in his home rather than seeking shelter elsewhere throughout the conflict, he said that people are too afraid to attempt farming their fields.
Asked why he elected to remain home instead of following evacuation recommendations, the farmer simply told the Post, “I feel safe.”
Emphasizing that “the war is very bad” and that “all the people here are very sad,” the farmer expressed his and his friends’ wishes that “the war will be stopped” sooner rather than later.
“I hope that in the future everything will be solved between our friends,” he said.
The farmer said he would like to see a positive future, in which he can come to visit Israel freely and borders are open, stressing the need for supplies to construct new buildings.
“We are neighbors,” he said. “We don’t like the war, we like peace.”
“We hope to work together as one family, not as two families,” the farmer said.