The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned that the Israeli assault on Gaza caused extensive damage to the region’s agricultural sector and will have long-term consequences.In a statement, the FAO said that the five-week assault has ‘forced farmers and herders to abandon their lands and has paralyzed fishing activities, bringing local food production to a halt and severely affecting livelihoods.’

‘The recent fighting has resulted in substantial direct damage to Gaza’s 17,000 hectares of croplands as well as much of its agricultural infrastructure, including greenhouses, irrigation systems, animal farms, fodder stocks and fishing boats,’ the statement continued.

The report noted, according to Ma’an, that Gaza has lost half of its poultry in the attack, ‘either due to direct hits on their shelters or lack of water, feed or care resulting from access restrictions.’

Losses among Gaza’s fishing sector were estimated at 234.6 tons — about 9.3 percent of the yearly catch.

According to the FAO, although Gaza imports most of its food, around 28,600 people in Gaza rely on farming (19,000 people), livestock raising (6,000) and fishing (3,600) for their livelihoods.

To quote Ciro Fiorillo, head of the FAO office in the West Bank and Gaza Strip:

‘Under the most recent ceasefire many farmers and herders are now able to access their lands, however resumption of food production faces serious obstacles given the damages sustained and shortages of water, electricity, inputs and financial resources, as well as ongoing uncertainty regarding the possible resumption of military activities.’

Food prices have been extremely volatile over the last five weeks, the organization stated, with upward spikes in the price of eggs estimated at 40%, potatoes at 42 percent%, and tomatoes at 179%.

‘With local food production halted and food imports curtailed, virtually the entire population of Gaza (about 1.8 million people) is currently reliant on food aid. WFP, together with the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) regularly assists about 1.1 million people,’ the report went on to say, additionally noting that another 700,000 people were relying on emergency food distribution by the Palestinian Ministry of Social Affairs, UNRWA, and WFP.

Ma’an further reports that Gaza’s dependency on foreign aid is a direct result of an ongoing eight-year Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip, with its imports, exports, and movements of people having beem extensively restricted since 2006.

The siege was bolstered with Egyptian backing in 2007.

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