Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Long term soil devastation in Gaza due to use of white phosphorus and depleted uranium

24.01.09 - 18:46

ImageGaza / PNN – Losses are huge in the Gaza Strip with many of the devastated population still in tears, some little kids afraid to return to school today.

The environmental effects will continue to be uncovered for years on lands that become less fertile with each invasion and home demolition.

The Agriculture Minister in the Gaza Strip noted today that the Israeli military continues to target farmers on their lands near the boundary lines. Many people are unable to reach the fields. He added on Saturday that in the Mediterranean just off the Gaza coast Israeli naval ships continue to open fire on fishermen, preventing them from working.

Financially speaking it is clear that reconstruction costs in the Strip are around two billion. The Ministry of Agriculture says that another 170 million USD is needed for that sector alone.

Agriculture Minister Mohammad Al Agha told a press conference in Gaza City today that nearly a thousand water wells were destroyed along with 60 percent of the Strip’s total agricultural land. Included in the 170 million figure needed is the cost for reconstruction to the fishing industry in the Mediterranean Sea.

“Massive destruction [was] caused in the agricultural and fishing sector of the Gaza Strip through bulldozing thousands of acres and destroying wells, agriculture and poultry and livestock farms, fishing ports and fishing boats, and canning and packaging plants.”

Al Agha said that the Israeli military use of “white phosphorus and depleted uranium have a direct impact on agriculture and public health as the length of stay of these toxic substances in the soil will continue to create disastrous results.”

He called in this context for assistance in testing collected soil samples. The equipment in the Gaza Strip is old and in disrepair due to the ban on imports. Al Agha asked that international and Arab organizations and governments help move the samples for outside testing or break the siege to allow the import of sophisticated lab equipment.