Muhammad Abu Safiyya lost everything during Israel’s 51-day attack on Gaza during the summer of 2014.
Most of the thirty-six homes in his village, also called Abu Safiyya, were completely destroyed after Israeli forces invaded.
“We came back during ceasefires and each time we returned we found [the area] worse,” the 54-year-old father of six told The Electronic Intifada.
The signs of destruction still remain visible in the northern Gaza village. A pair of torched cars rest on their sides near the barn on Abu Safiyya’s farm and a large John Deere tractor is now an immense pile of contorted steel.
During the offensive, Israeli strikes killed 2,257 Palestinians, most of whom were civilians, according to the United Nations monitoring group OCHA.
“There aren’t any water wells left and [Israel] destroyed the mosque,” Abu Safiyya said.
Abu Safiyya is unable to calculate how much it will cost him to repair the damage. “It’s impossible to know exactly how much we lost,” he said, explaining that “much of our land was destroyed by tanks and we’ve had trouble getting the lentils to grow.”
Some fifty of his cows and a dozen sheep died because of the attack. As he walked down the dirt road from his home, patches of sheep skin could be seen on the ground. “Some were shot, others starved when we were gone,” he said.
He is just one of thousands of farmers and agricultural workers throughout Gaza whose land was damaged and whose livestock were killed.
According to statistics provided to The Electronic Intifada by the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Gaza’s total livestock population decreased by 13 percent between 2010 and 2014.
Nearly 10,000 goats and sheep died in that four-year span, during which Gaza endured two major Israeli attacks.
Dependent on the animals for their income, the total number of herders pursuing their traditional livelihood also decreased by 22 percent, according to the FAO. more