Gaza residents have endured years of oppression by the Hamas terrorist organization that seized control of the enclave more than a decade ago – but now, they are facing another nightmare.
This year’s grape harvest, on which some 1,000 local farmers working 1,730 acres of the fruit, has fizzled thanks to an unusually hot summer combined with not enough rain.
Grapes are a favorite treat among Gaza residents and constitute one of the top four crops in the enclave. Much of the local farmland is devoted to cultivating vineyards.
The 2023 season saw a 60 percent drop from last year’s crop of 4,000 tons, according to Gaza Agriculture Ministry official Mohammad Abu Odeh, who told Reuters, “Higher temperatures have also led to the spread of disease, which impacted the already low production and further increased the costs for farmers.”
There were at least three consecutive heat waves in July, a month which proved to be the hottest-ever month on record worldwide, due to climate change.
Because grapes are particularly sensitive to shifting temperatures and weather patterns, this year’s harvest was seriously affected.
Ibrahim Abu Owayyed, a local grape farmer whose vineyards date back to his grandfather, told Reuters this week that his harvest has shrunk from five tons of grapes last season to just 1.5 tons of the fruit this time around.
“Grapes are our sole source of income. We and our children rely on it. The heat and the climate change impacted us completely,” he said.
While that is undoubtedly true, peace with Israel would afford Gaza’s farmers the opportunity to use cutting-edge agricultural technology and receive other assistance to help improve their chances for success, even in the face of climate change.
Israel is a world leader in agritech and repeatedly shares its expertise with governments and farmers around the world. If there were peace, Gaza farmers could benefit significantly.
But that would mean an about face for Hamas, whose charter calls for the annihilation of the Jewish State and which is backed by Iran, likewise dedicated to wiping Israel off the map.
Hamas has for decades spent its limited and precious resources on building its military to attack Israel, rather than invest in services and infrastructure for those it holds hostage.
Climate change will only worsen the effects of such a parasitic regime.