Israele ammette: spruzzati erbicidi su Gaza

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di Michela Sechi

Martedì 29 dicembre 2015 ore 18:16
Farmers-start-to-replant-their-land-in-Beit-Hanoun.-Photo-by-the-International-Committee-of-the-Red-Cross

Aerei israeliani hanno spruzzato erbicidi sui campi di Gaza, lungo il confine con Israele. Lo ha ammesso un portavoce dell’esercito israelianointerpellato dal sito di informazione israeliano +972mag. “L’irrorazione con erbicidi e con inibitori della germinazione è stata condotta in un’area vicino al confine la settimana scorsa, per agevolare le operazioni di sicurezzadell’esercito”, ha spiegato il militare.

Da anni le guardie di frontiera israeliane sparano a chiunque si avvicini al muro che separa Gaza e Israele. L’IDF ha instaurato unilateralmente unano-go zone larga diverse centinaia di metri dalla parte palestinese della barriera. Ora sembra che l’Esercito israeliano abbia deciso di instaurare anche una no-grow zone, un’area dove non cresce vegetazione e che sia dunque più controllabile.

Peccato che i veleni spruzzati in quell’area lungo il muro siano finiti anchesui campi coltivati, distruggendo raccolti di spinaci, piselli, fagioli e prezzemolo. Secondo l’agenzia di stampa palestinese Ma’an, l’irrorazione sarebbe avvenuta dalle 6 alle 9 del mattino per 3 giorni consecutivi. Risultato: la distruzione di 1500 dunams (371 acri) di coltivazioni nella parte centro-orientale della Striscia e di 200 dunams (50 acri) di coltivazioni nella zona di Khan Younis. Senza contare che gli erbicidi sonosostanze dannose per la salute delle persone e contaminano la terra e l’acqua.

Durante la guerra del Vietnam gli stati Uniti spruzzarono erbicidi e sostanze defolianti (l’Agente Arancio) sulla giungla che dava riparo ai Vietcong. Ma quando la tossicità di queste sostanze divenne evidente, la comunità internazionale le mise al bando tramite la Convenzione ENMOD, il trattato internazionale che proibisce l’uso militare delle tecniche di modifica ambientale. La Convenzione è entrata in vigore nel 1978 e oggi conta 77 paesi aderenti, ma Israele non l’ha firmata.

Le terre più fertili di Gaza, le uniche coltivabili, si trovano proprio a ridosso del confine con Israele. La no-go zone non è mai stata delimitata e i civili palestinesi non sanno fin dove possono spingersi, per coltivare i loro campi o per raccogliere macerie o pezzi di metallo che vengono poi riciclati. I soldati sparano a chi supera quel confine invisibile, ma nessuno sa dove sia.

L’associazione israeliana Gisha (Centro legale per la libertà di movimento) ha inviato una richiesta scritta all’esercito israeliano per sapere quali siano le regole. La risposta è arrivata diversi mesi dopo, ma non ha fatto molta chiarezza. Secondo l’esercito, i civili palestinesi possono avvicinarsi fino a 300 metri dal confine, mentre i contadini possono avvicinarsi maggiormente, fino a 100 metri dal confine. Ma come fanno i soldati a distinguere – dalle loro torrette – se chi si avvicina al muro è un semplice abitante di Gaza o un contadino?

Eppure negli scorsi mesi la Croce Rossa Internazionale aveva profuso gli sforzi per permettere a 500 contadini di Gaza di ritornare a coltivare i loro campi lungo il confine, gravemente danneggiati dall’attacco israeliano del 2014. Si tratta proprio della striscia di terra che si trova fra i 100 e i 300 metri dal reticolato, scrive l’OCHA (Agenzia Onu per gli Affari Umanitari nei Territori Palestinesi Occupati).

Erano stati stanziati i fondi per aiutare gli agricoltori a ricostruire gli impianti di irrigazione, a rimettere in uso i pozzi, i serbatoi e le serre, ad acquistare i semi, a riempire le buche causate dalle bombe, a rendere di nuovo agibili le strade. Un lavoro di mesi, terminato proprio i tempo per le semina d’autunno e le piogge di novembre. E’ stata proprio la Croce Rossa Internazionale – scrive Ma’an – a constatare i danni causati dagli aerei israeliani, che nei giorni scorsi hanno gettato i pesticidi sulle nuove coltivazioni.

 

http://www.radiopopolare.it/2015/12/israele-ammette-spruzzati-erbicidi-su-gaza/

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IDF admits spraying herbicides inside the Gaza Strip

The army says aerial spraying was meant to ‘enable security operations.’ Palestinian farmers say hundreds of acres of crops were damaged or destroyed.

A Palestinian farmer walks through fields near Gaza’s eastern border, Al Montar, February 17, 2014. An Israeli military post is seen in the distance to the left, with the border indicated by the dark green areas passing through it. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

A Palestinian farmer walks through fields near Gaza’s eastern border, Al Montar, February 17, 2014. An Israeli military post is seen in the distance to the left, with the border indicated by the dark green areas passing through it. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

The Israel army has confirmed that it used crop-dusters to kill off vegetation — and perhaps inadvertently, agricultural crops — inside the Gaza Strip last week. According to Palestinian officials, over 420 acres of land were damaged by the spraying.

For years now, the IDF has unilaterally maintained a lethal “no-go zone” on the Palestinian side of the border with Gaza. Now, it seems, it has also implemented a “no-grow zone.”

“The aerial spraying of herbicides and germination inhibitors was conducted in the area along the border fence last week in order to enable optimal and continuous security operations,” an IDF Spokesperson told +972 on Sunday.

Palestinian Agricultural Ministry officials told Ma’an news that farmers said Israeli planes had been spraying their agricultural lands adjacent to the border fence for several days straight. Spinach, pea, parsley and bean crops were reportedly destroyed around the al-Qarrara area in eastern Khan Younis and the Wadi al-Salqa area in central Gaza, according to the report.

The military spokesperson did not respond to a follow-up question about the destruction of agricultural crops.

The spraying of herbicides in Gaza was not reported in the Israeli media.

An Israeli soldier raises his rifle toward unarmed Palestinian protesters along the border fence separating Israel and Gaza, Gaza Strip, near the Nahal Oz crossing, October 30, 2015. (Ezz Zanoun/Activestills.org)

An Israeli soldier raises his rifle toward unarmed Palestinian protesters along the border fence separating Israel and Gaza, Gaza Strip, near the Nahal Oz crossing, October 30, 2015. (Ezz Zanoun/Activestills.org)

The IDF has for years imposed a lethal no-go buffer zone along the Gaza border. The army killed at least 16 Palestinians and wounded at least 379 more who entered or approached the no-go zone in recent months, most of whom were participating in demonstrations along the fence.

Farmers and scrap collectors are also regularly targeted as they approach the fence. Palestinians often claim that those shot were outside the restricted area. Rarely are there any allegations that those shot were armed.

“Spraying crop-killing pesticides, like opening fire at people of all ages and gender in the vicinity of the fence, puts civilian lives at risk and hurts livelihoods,” said Shai Grunberg, spokesperson for Gisha, an Israeli rights group that works to promote freedom of movement for Palestinians in Gaza. “By virtue of Israel’s substantial control of the Gaza Strip, international law requires it to facilitate normal life in the Strip.”

From an Israeli military perspective, the buffer zone helps the army counter the laying of IEDs, ambushes and border infiltrations. Ground forces regularly enter the Strip in order to clear obstructions to army’s line of sight, including by demolishing structures and trees. The logic behind the herbicidal clearing of foliage and crops along the border area, one can assume, is to clear a line of sight for soldiers seeking to identify threats.

Palestinian workers salvage building materials near Erez Crossing at the northern border between Gaza and Israel, Beit Hanoun, February 18, 2014. A remote-controlled sniper gun is mounted on a nearby Israeli military watchtower in the border wall. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

The Israeli army Palestinian workers salvage building materials near Erez Crossing at the northern border between Gaza and Israel, Beit Hanoun, February 18, 2014. A remote-controlled weapon is mounted on a nearby Israeli military watchtower in the border wall. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

The Israeli army has provided contradictory information regarding the no-go zone over the years, including the area’s specific size and its procedures for engaging (shooting at) civilians who enter it for various reasons. From explanations given in recent months, it appears that the no-go zone stretches 300 meters from the fence but that farmers are allowed to approach up to 100 meters by foot. Those distances tend to differ from area to area, according to Gisha.

The army has not disclosed how it distinguishes between farmers and other civilians, or civilians and combatants, however.

“A primary principle of international humanitarian law is the distinction between combatants and civilians,” Israeli human rights group B’Tselem wrote in a report on the no-go zone in Gaza. “When it is unclear if the persons are civilians or combatants, they must be treated as civilians.”

A Palestinian herder tends his sheep near the northern border between Gaza and Israel, Beit Hanoun, February 18, 2014. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

A Palestinian herder tends his sheep near the northern border between Gaza and Israel, Beit Hanoun, February 18, 2014. (photo: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org)

During the Vietnam war, the United States famously sprayed Agent Orange, napalm and other herbicides and defoliants to destroy vast swathes of jungle in Vietnam for military purposes. After the health and environmental effects such practices became clearer, however, the international community initiated the Environmental Modification Convention restricting the use of herbicidal warfare, which came into force in 1978. Israel is not a party to the convention.

In addition to enforcing a lethal buffer zone along its land border with Gaza affecting Palestinian farmers, the Israeli army also imposes strict, and sometimes deadly restrictions on the maritime areas in which Palestinian fisherman may fish.

Israel withdrew its troops from the Gaza Strip 10 years ago but its military still controls its land and sea borders, airspace, maritime zone, population registry, and decides which people and what goods may enter and exit the Strip. While Gaza also has a land border with Egypt, the Rafah crossing is a passenger terminal only, is often closed, and only lets through a limited number of people.

Update, December 29: This article originally included outdated statistics on the size of Gaza’s “no-go zone,” which have been removed.

Haggai Matar contributed to this report.

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