Olive trees and date palms in Gaza made barren by phosphorus bombs

Olive trees and date palms in Gaza made barren by phosphorus bombs


Palestinian farmers seem to be sure that Zionist bombs, especially “white phosphorus” and some unknown incendiary bombs, have caused a sharp and unprecedented decline in olive and date crop yields in farms which escaped the Zionist destruction in Gaza Strip. 

With signs of despair on his face, Palestinian farmer Azzam An-Najjar, 74, who owns an olive farm east of Khan Yunus, says: “My crop is less than 5% of the normal annual harvest”. 

He adds, "In addition to the loss suffered by us due to the destruction of olive farms, the yield of the remaining trees is almost non-existent.  It is strange, without precedent”.  He says that it is not his catastrophe alone but it is true in all of the agricultural farms in the region.

Whatever escaped destruction by bulldozing
did not escape phosphorus

The Zionist occupation forces tore away 60 olive trees belonging to the farmer An-Najjar east of the town of Khuza‘a and left for him only 18 trees in another farm in Abasan al-Kabeera.  He used to pick 1.5 to 2.5 tons of olives which he used to produce oil, the quantity varying from 20 to 22 tins of oil (each tin contains about 16Kg) but this season he could pick only 90 kg of olives. 

An-Najjar does not know the reason why the crop yield has declined but he thinks that it is due to the horrible effects of missiles, bombs and the white phosphorus which the Zionists showered on Gaza during the Israeli blitzkrieg on the Strip, called by the Israelis ‘operation Cast Lead’ on 27 December last year, an onslaught which continued for as many as 22 days. 

A Palestinian woman, Al-Hajja Umm Mohammad As-Sumeri, suffered the same fate.  Her 30 large olive trees produced only 40 kg of olives while they used to produce about 4000 kg.  She says, “The cause is the Zionist white phosphorus bombs which left neither humans nor rocks.  How could the trees be spared (then)”?  

The owner of an oil press in the south of Gaza Strip,  Fahmi Abu Mash, says that he used to press 10 tons of olives the first day of the harvest season in October, but this year the quantity he pressed did not exceed one ton!

Destruction and war main reason

The Ministry of Agriculture in Gaza said that the main loss of olive harvest was basically due to the destruction of 8784 dunums of olive farms by the Zionists during the war, pointing out that there are no studies to prove the connection between the decline in the yield in the rest of the land and the Zionist bombs. 

However, an environmental engineer sees a strong connection between the decline in the yield and phosphorus and other bombs which the Zionists dropped during the war.  He also pointed out that if a region is contaminated with white phosphorus, it also affects all the elements of the environment, water, air, soil and organisms.

He explained further that the type used for military purposes is distinguished for its strong chemical action by interacting with the air of the atmosphere since it burns and oxidizes very quickly.  This chemical interaction generates heat so intense that the element explodes due to its own intensity, emitting yellow flames and thick white smoke.  That white phosphorus lights up darkness and the chemical action continues until the matter is totally consumed or is deprived of oxygen.

Damage to date palms

Date-palms suffer no less than olives.  Nawaf Al-Fulait, 55, from Deir-ul-Balah, a town in central Gaza Strip, says, "I never saw the yield dropping so low during the last ten years.  It is less than 20% this season".

He, too, blames the white phosphorus for the sharp decline in the yield of dates. 

Agriculture engineer Dr Haider Al-Lahham says that date palms, like humans, suffer from fear and deformities.

He explains, "The temperature during the forty days period of severe cold, from 25 December to 5 February, rose from 5 Centigrade to 15 Centigrade due to thousands of tons of explosives and bombs dropped by the Zionist forces on the Gaza Strip during the war, causing the loss of units of coldness which all the crops need to take on in varying degrees to convert young green buds into fruits buds.  This, in turn, led to the decrease in fruit crops of all kinds, especially fruit trees which acquire more units of coldness like almonds, apples and olives.  Those bombs took no pity on humans and rocks, let alone the trees”. 

Deformed births

More fearful are the future chain effects of Zionist bombs dropped on Gaza because the Ministry of Health observed noticeable increase in the number of deformed children born there.

The Director of Ash-Shifa Hospital in Gaza, Dr Husain Ashoor, said: “The last Zionist war on the Gaza Strip caused new forms of deformities among the children, the like of which we never came across in the past”.

He remarked that the rate of deformed births during the last three months – July, August and September – exceeded 80% of all the births, as compared to that of the same period of the previous year.