[QODLink]
Archive
Looters steal Gaza greenhouses
A recent spate of looting of greenhouses in the Gaza Strip has caused more than $1 million of damage to a farming project set up to provide jobs for thousands of Palestinians, officials said.
Last Modified: 13 Feb 2006 19:29 GMT
A greenhouse project has created about 4000 jobs
A recent spate of looting of greenhouses in the Gaza Strip has caused more than $1 million of damage to a farming project set up to provide jobs for thousands of Palestinians, officials said.

The theft of entire greenhouses and their equipment has put out of action about 70 acres of the roughly 1000 acres left by Jewish settlers as the basis of a Palestinian agriculture industry when Israel withdrew from Gaza last September.

The looting began when gunmen from a militia hired to protect the greenhouses abandoned their posts early this month because they had not been paid, officials from a government company that operates the project said.

"The looters took their time to dismantle the greenhouses and to uproot entire greenhouses and carry them away," said Amid al-Masri, head of the Palestine Economic Development Company's (PEDC) greenhouse project.

The Palestinian Authority project was set up with the help of private donors who paid $13 million to Jewish settlers to leave their greenhouses intact after the withdrawal.

Lucrative enterprise

"The (Palestinian) Authority bears responsibility for what happened as they failed to send policemen to protect the greenhouses"

Amid al-Masri,
Palestine Economic Development Company

The Israeli greenhouse owners had earned tens of millions of dollars annually from lucrative crops that included flowers and herbs that they sold abroad.

Al-Masri said he feared the looting could hurt international support for other development projects in the Gaza Strip.

"It will undermine our efforts to privatise the project as we hoped and also it could frighten investors aiming at other projects," he said.

Al-Masri said police were investigating whether gunmen from the Fatah Popular Army, who were hired to protect the greenhouses, were involved in the theft.

"The (Palestinian) Authority bears responsibility for what happened as they failed to send policemen to replace members of the Popular Army to protect the greenhouses," he said.

Israeli restrictions

The Karni Crossing, through which
goods are exported is closed

The development company's head, Basil Jaber, said the greenhouse project had been hit hard by the loss of $2 million worth of crops that could not be exported to European markets because of Israel's closure of the commercial crossing from Gaza.

Israeli security sources said the crossing was shut because of intelligence reports that attacks were planned there and that Palestinian officials rejected Israel's offer of alternative crossing points.

PEDC officials said the company was making a loss as a result of the greenhouse looting and the Karni closure.

"The company is not expected to make any profits this year because of the losses it has suffered so far," al-Masri said.

The company has devoted $33 million of its $100 million in Palestinian Authority funds to developing the greenhouses. The project has created about 4000 jobs in the Gaza Strip, where unemployment is about 50 percent.

Source:
Reuters
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
The world's newest professional sport comes from an unlikely source: video games.
The group's takeover of farms in Qaraqosh, 30km from Mosul, has caused fear among residents, and a jump in food prices.
Protests and online activism in recent months have brought a resurgence of ethnic Oromo nationalism in Ethiopia.
Chemotherapy is big business, but some US doctors say it could be overused and are pushing for cheaper and better care.
Amid vote audit and horse-trading, politicians of all hues agree a compromise is needed to avoid political instability.
join our mailing list