Monday, July 19, 2010

Gaza not allowed to bee

"Sa'id has 20 dunams (a dunam is 1000 square metres) farmland in Sheyjayee, east of Gaza city and roughly 400 metres from the Green Line border between the Gaza Strip and Israel. Until 2009 the farm had hundreds of trees, and more than 10,000 chickens. "It was all destroyed during the Israeli attacks," Hillis says.

The 2008-2009 23-day Israeli war on Gaza destroyed more than 35 percent of Gaza's agricultural land, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). This included chicken and beef farms, and cultivated land.

Oxfam notes that the combination of the Israeli war on Gaza and maintaining of the buffer zone renders around 46 percent of agricultural land useless or unreachable. Since their means of living off the land was destroyed, Hillis's family of 13 has survived off the income that Ramzi, Sa'id's oldest son, brings from driving a taxi.

"We had 250 boxes of bees, but they were bulldozed by the Israelis in 2004," says Ramzi Hillis, 29, at his house, a kilometre from the border.

Walking behind the house, Hillis points out the remains of a family legacy. "After they were destroyed six years ago, we bought more bees and started over." Until the war on Gaza, they had acquired 80 boxes of bees. "Fifteen boxloads of bees died during the bombing," he says. "From phosphorous smoke.""

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