• Southern Lebanon

  • Tuesday, January 30, 2024 at 6:15:59 AM
    Last Update : Monday, February 12, 2024 at 12:03 PM

Fears of Damage to Agricultural Land in Southern Lebanon Due to Israeli White Phosphorus Bombing

(AWP) - Farmer Eli al-Homsi used to peacefully cultivate his land in Burj al-Muluk along the Lebanese southern borders until the Israeli shelling, reportedly using the internationally banned white phosphorus, hit nearby lands.

After gathering soil samples from eight southern locations that were bombed, the Lebanese Ministry of Environment recently issued a statement saying that analysis showed large percentages of white phosphorus, reaching up to 40,000 parts per million (ppm), compared to the normal rate of approximately 100 ppm.

Such high proportions harm agriculture in the contaminated areas, causing both environmental and economic damage.

Al-Homsi said, “Israel bombed with a lot of phosphorus. It did not directly hit our lands, but it hit lands a little to the south. It is certainly toxic to the land and production. [The produce] would be harmful if we sell it after being bombed.”

He added, “I have land that I could not harvest. It remains as it is, and the whole season is over for me. I personally could not cultivate wheat. There are others who did plant. I don’t know, maybe they will not be able to harvest it later. There is a lot of damage; everything has come to a halt.”

The mayor of the border town of Kfar Kila, Hassan Sheet, said that such contamination will add further burdens to the agricultural sector in the region, and stressed that removing the negative effects from contaminated lands requires governmental and state-level efforts rather than local, individual initiatives.

Sheet said, “The Zionist enemy began bombing with phosphorus after the beginning of the events that broke out on October 7, and its goal was physical harm, harming the environment and agriculture, and affecting all aspects of life in Kfar Kila and the region adjacent to occupied Palestine as a whole.”

He continued, “Studies conducted both internationally or by the [Lebanese] Ministry of the Environment, confirm that the white phosphorus used is internationally banned phosphorus, which is prohibited in wars and non-wars.”

Activist and Environmental law expert, Mounir Kablan, believes that the contaminated soil poses a threat to both human lives and soil fertility, adding that treating it requires a costly and complicated process.

Kablan said, “The matter has been discussed a lot. In addition to the fires caused by [phosphorus bombing] destroying vegetation and green cover, it also kills any animals present, or kills humans if they are targeted, as a result of the very high temperature of white phosphorus.”

He added, “It is also a problem for the soil. If it reaches it, it loses its fertility, and the deposits remain in it for very many years. There is no possibility of restoring this fertility except by removing it and bringing in new soil, which would be very expensive and complicated.”

The Israeli army has been exchanging fire almost daily with Lebanese Hezbollah and armed Palestinian factions in Lebanon since the start of Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip on October 7.