Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 July 2019

Watch: Gaza farmers devastated by border protests

Close to the Gaza-Israel border, protesters march for justice while hurting the ground they march on

A year on since Gaza's border protests began, farmers in the area said the weekly protests have affected their crops and livelihoods.

The protests were organised to demand the easing of an Israeli economic blockade and the right of return to lands that Palestinian families fled or were driven from on Israel's founding in 1948.

According to the Palestinian ministry of agriculture in Gaza, 70% of the agricultural land is located near the border with Israel.

This puts farmland in the path of protesters who tread on plants and sabotage the crops, according to local farmers.

"Every Friday, in the evening, I come to watch them and to tell them not to step on the crop, but it doesn't help," said 22-year-old farmer Mamoun Badawi.

Another farmer, Naser Abu Daff, said he also failed to prevent protesters from damaging his vegetables.

With a tear gas cloud often billowing in the sky, Abu Daff said it was just too difficult to even remain standing at the scene.

The land where Abu Daff works once provided him with a good income but not after a year of protests destroyed his crop.

"We didn't make any money. They destroyed it all," he said, as he stood in the middle of his crop.

On Wednesday, signs emerged in southern Israel and Gaza of a pullback from the most serious escalation of cross-border fighting in months.

The latest round of fighting that took place this week has added to tensions that were already building ahead of the first anniversary on March 30 of the start of weekly Gaza protests at the border.

Some 200 Gazans have been killed and thousands wounded by Israeli fire during those protests, and one Israeli soldier has been killed.

Israel says its use of lethal force is meant to stop attempts to breach the border and launch attack on its troops and civilians.

For protesters such as Sameh Alsikni, nearly a full year of weekly protests has not reaped rewards.

"Honestly, we have seen no results. We had many demands, like (changing the situation at) the crossing, the port, breaking the siege imposed on Gaza," he said.

"All we see is that the siege became tougher, and the rope of the gibbet is one by one becoming tighter and tighter," he added.

Protesters in Gaza are expected to mark the first anniversary of border protests on Saturday.

Updated: March 28, 2019 08:14 AM

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