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Gaza officials say land contaminated by Israel

Dec. 27, 2009 4:14 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 28, 2009 1:18 A.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an/Agenies - Palestinian officials reaffirmed earlier claims that Gaza’s soil was contaminated by chemicals released by Israeli weapons during last year's war on Gaza, a statement from the de facto government Ministry of Agriculture said on Saturday.

On the eve of the anniversary of the war on Gaza, the Ma’an Development Center lead a workshop and planning session with local partners to analyze data collected over the past week on land that was declared unfit for human use.

The workshop looked at the effects of suspected contamination of Gaza farmland by Israeli weapons used during the war.

Nizar Al-Wahidi, the deputy director of planning and policy in the Palestinian agriculture ministry, estimated that the prohibition on farming in some areas would affect the livelihoods of 8,478 farmers and 33,000 agricultural workers.

According to the statement, losses sustained by the agricultural even before areas were declared unfit, was 587million US dollars.

Awni Naim, the deputy head of the environmental quality authority, estimated that three million kilos of explosives were dropped on Gaza, averaging one ton per square kilometer of land.

The contamination may also affect rubble families are using to rebuild. The resourceful turning to recycled materials may prove disastrous, Naim warned, if the material is also contaminated with radioactive particles from the bombs. "It could affect the next several generations," he said.

Assistant professor of environmental science at the Islamic university Abdel Fattah Abed Rabbo 17% of the agricultural land was destroyed during the war, and 5% was now contaminated.
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