Palestinian human rights groups fear that herbicides sprayed by the Israeli army could cause long-term damage.
Ibrahim Abu Taaymeh has grown spinach on land in the Gaza Strip for more than a decade.
But the Palestinian farmer from Khan Younis, in southern Gaza, says his harvest was destroyed after the Israeli army sprayed an unknown herbicide on lands in the buffer zone near the Israel-Gaza border fence in October 2014.
The chemicals were blown on to Abu Taaymeh’s one-acre plot of land, which is located about 700 metres from the buffer zone and serves as the sole source of income for his family, human rights groups reported.
Since then, Abu Taaymeh has suffered about $3,000 in losses, believed to have resulted from both the aerial spraying and the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has been strictly enforced since 2007.
Late last month, a number of groups – including the Gaza-based Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, the Adalah legal centre for Palestinians in Israel, and an Israeli group called Gisha that focuses on Palestinian freedom of movement – sent a letter to Israeli officials demanding an investigation into the crop-spraying incidents.
“We are trying to seek redress and compensation for some of these people because of the long-term damages,” said Mahmoud Abu Rahma, a spokesperson for Al Mezan, which is advocating on behalf of Abu Taaymeh and other farmers in Gaza. The rights groups say they will first wait for a response from Israeli authorities before considering whether to launch a formal lawsuit.
In a news release issued this week, Adalah alleged that the chemicals sprayed in October 2014 reached agricultural lands belonging to several Palestinian farmers. The human rights groups say that Israeli army aircraft sprayed unknown herbicides between October 11 and 13, 2014, on land located inside the buffer zone, a 300-metre-wide area that cuts into the palestanian territory from the Gaza-Israel border fence.AlJazira