Palestinians need immediate attention to avoid a major food crisis

One of my friends in Gaza, young lawyer Muhammad Rafiq Mahawish, told me that food prices in the Gaza Strip have skyrocketed in recent weeks and that many already impoverished families are struggling to make a living for their children. Theirs. “Food prices have risen illogically, especially since the beginning of the war in Ukraine,” he said, and prices of staple products such as wheat and meat have almost doubled. For example, the price of a kilogram of chicken, which a small portion of Gaza’s population could buy, rose from $ 6 to about $ 14.

Oxfam warns

The problem of high prices can be managed in some parts of the world, but the Gaza Strip, which is already suffering from poverty and Israeli military blockade for 15 years, is certainly facing a major humanitarian crisis. In fact, the international charity Oxfam warned of this crisis when a report of the organization warned that food prices in all the occupied Palestinian territories had risen by 25%, but the most alarming thing was that the flour stocks in these lands “could run out . “Within three weeks,” according to Oxfam.

The impact of the war in Ukraine appeared in most parts of the world, to varying degrees. African and Middle Eastern countries, which are already suffering from poverty, hunger and unemployment problems, were most affected by this war. But Palestine is a completely different story, as it is an occupied country and is completely dependent on its occupying power, Israel, which refuses to obey humanitarian and international laws.

rationing

For the Palestinians this issue is complex, but all its features are related to the occupying power, Israel. The Gaza Strip has suffered for several years from the Israeli economic blockade and the quantities of food products that Israel allows to enter are subject to rationing and manipulation as a form of collective punishment for the Belt. In its report released last February, Amnesty International spoke about Israel’s apartheid policy against the Palestinians and the details of the Israeli restrictions on food and gas supplies to the Palestinians. According to the organization, Israel uses “calculations to determine the amount of food products it allows to enter the Gaza Strip, so that these materials are sufficient only to feed the people of the Gaza Strip and keep them alive.”

In addition to the many infrastructure issues resulting from the blockade, such as lack of drinking water, electricity and agricultural equipment, the Gaza Strip lost much of its arable land after being annexed to the Israeli-created military zone along the adjacent area. to the Belt.

The West Coast is no better

The West Bank is also not in a better position, as most Palestinians living in the occupied territories feel the growing burden caused by the Israeli occupation, accompanied by the devastating effects of the Corona pandemic, and the structural weakness of the Palestinian Authority, i which suffers. from widespread corruption and mismanagement.

The Palestinian Authority imports 95% of its grain consumption, according to Oxfam, and has no storage whatsoever. This revenue is channeled through Israel, which controls all Palestinian contacts with the outside world. As Israel itself imports half of its grain from Ukraine, the Palestinians remain hostage to this mechanism.

Although Israel collects its food and is largely independent of energy, the Palestinians are fighting on all fronts. While the Palestinian Authority must retain some of the support and investment in its security apparatus at the expense of its food security, Israel holds most of the keys to Palestinian survival.

Given the spread of military checkpoints throughout the occupied West Bank, separating and isolating communities as well as farmers from their agricultural lands, the establishment of sustainable agriculture in the Palestinian territories is impossible.

partition wall

There are two issues that complicate this already complex scene: The first is what is known as the apartheid wall, which is more than a hundred kilometers long and which not only separates the Israelis from the Palestinians, but also deprives the Palestinians so illegal from large parts of them. agricultural lands, and the second is the illegal theft of Palestinian water from groundwater pockets in the West Bank. As Palestinian communities struggle to find drinking water during the summer, Israel does not experience water shortages throughout the year.

The crisis is completely artificial

Even if the war in Ukraine stops, food insecurity will continue in the Palestinian territories because it is mainly caused by Israeli long-term policies and plans. In the case of Gaza, the crisis is entirely artificial, based on a pre-determined Israeli plan. Israeli government adviser Dov Weisglass was not ashamed in 2006 when he spoke of the purpose of the Gaza blockade, saying: “The idea behind the siege is for the Palestinians to live on a planned diet, but we will not let them die by uria. “

Palestinians need more attention to avoid a major food crisis. In fact, the Gaza Strip, which is already suffering from high poverty and unemployment, can not withstand more disasters. But any help given to the Palestinians would be a short-term reform. A dialogue should take place between the Arab countries, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and other parties, in order to discuss and resolve the Palestinian food insecurity crisis. as it poses a real existential threat to them.

Zone “C”

The so-called “Zone C”, which makes up 60% of the total area of ​​the West Bank, is still under full Israeli military occupation. It contains most of the agricultural land in the region, especially areas in the very fertile Jordan Valley. Although Israel formally postponed the annexation of zone C, in practice the zone is in a state of Israeli annexation, as the Palestinians are slowly being expelled from it and being replaced by illegal Israeli settlers.

The rapid rise in food prices is causing great harm to farmers and ranchers, who are responsible for filling the gap caused by the global food instability caused by the war. According to Oxfam, livestock feed prices have risen by 60% in the West Bank, which adds more to the “existing burden” and increases “forced relocation”, as is the case in ethnic cleansing resulting from Israel’s annexation policies.

* Ramzi Baroud palest Palestinian journalist and writer

• The Gaza Strip has suffered for several years from the Israeli economic blockade and the quantities of foodstuffs that Israel allows to enter are subject to rationing and manipulation as a form of collective punishment for the Belt.

• The Palestinian Authority imports 95% of its grain consumption, according to Oxfam, and has no storage whatsoever. This revenue is channeled through Israel, which controls all Palestinian contacts with the outside world.

• Although Israel has formally postponed the annexation of zone C, the zone is practically in a state of Israeli annexation, as the Palestinians are slowly being expelled from it and being replaced by illegal Israeli settlers.

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