• Southern Lebanon

  • Thursday, February 1, 2024 at 7:56:00 AM
    Last Update : Monday, February 12, 2024 at 12:02 PM

Israeli Bombardment Denies Farmers Access to Their Fields in South Lebanon

(AWP) - Farmers in the towns and villages south of the Litani River, near the Lebanese-Israeli border, are finding that accessing their fields has become a major risk due to the ongoing tension and exchange of fire since October 7.

Agriculture, especially citrus fruits, bananas, olives and tobacco, are key sources of income for the inhabitants of South Lebanon. Mohamed al-Husseini, the head of the Southern Farmers Association, said many of the orchard owners near the border are unable to reach their land out of fear of being targeted.

He explained, “The Israeli enemy does not distinguish between military and civilians. We have seen many civilian martyrs. These farmlands have consequently been abandoned resulting in the loss of produce because farmers were unable to access the crops to send to markets. The prices this year are very low due to what is happening.”

Husseini also addressed the issue of Israel using white phosphorus bombs causing extensive damage to large swathes of plantations.

He said, “Crops were burnt and others affected by phosphorus. But crucially, southern products affected by phosphorus were not exported or sent to the markets. We should not exaggerate the situation.”

Ali Himdan, a farmer from Tyre, spoke of the plight of the farmers in towns like Qlaileh, al-Mansouri and Naqoura where Israeli warplanes frequently fly overhead, denying farmers access to their farmlands to harvest their fruits.

He said, “There are farmers that cannot reach their lands, specifically the people of Qlaileh, al-Mansouri and Naqoura. Those people are suffering. They go so early in the morning and try to collect as much of their produce as possible before the warplanes start hovering overhead or before the shelling begins.”

Hassan Dahir, another farmer from Tyre, said that resilience and determination to cling on to the land does not eliminate the fear experienced by the people of the south.

He said, “Even as we hold on to our lands until the end, the fear remains. We fear for our children, our siblings, our lands, our sources of income, and our homes.”

The farmers in the border areas have not been able to plough their fields or prepare for the new agricultural season. This will have negative repercussions for thousands of families in Southern Lebanon, in addition to the dollar crisis and inflation.

A report by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) pointed out that the sustained war on Lebanon’s southern borders or its expansion could lead to further complication of the country’s current economic crisis.

The largest losses have hit the agricultural sector which constitutes 80% of Lebanon’s gross domestic product (GDP). Southern Lebanon contributes approximately 21.5% of the country’s total cultivated land and represents a vital source of income for many families.