Baseline of a Desecrated Land VIII: Desecrated Farmlands

Baseline of a Desecrated Land VIII: Desecrated Farmlands
Part 8 of a 12 part series examining the ecological impacts of Israel’s occupation of Palestine.
A synopsis of the findings is here.

by Dick Callahan, reposted from

Last updated 10.18.2018

It was not as if there was a Palestinian people in Palestine and we came and threw them out and took their country away from them. They did not exist.” Former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir.

““The mountainsides were cut in terraces, many of them but a few yards wide, bearing olive, fig, and apricot trees, and numerous extensive vineyards…The whole face of the country, since leaving Jerusalem, bore evidence of a high state of cultivation…immense fields of ripened grain, the thick clustering stems bending to the breeze, their golden surfaces chequered with the shadows of passing clouds. Behind us were the rugged mountains, before us the lovely plain dotted with villages, and covered with a whole population gathering the harvest… Long before sunrise, the next day, the industrious fellahin [Palestinians] were at work in the fields.” W.F. Lynch, Commander US Navy Jordan River and Dead Sea expedition, March, 1848.

The Land
Sixty-five years ago, arable soil on the Siren Plateau was 100 cm thick. During the first fifty-years of Jewish domination the soil depth dropped by a quarter. That is a breathtaking loss in a place where it can take 2,000 years to add 10 centimeters of soil to the landscape. It is a man-made loss brought about by modern technology.

Starting well before World War I, Zionists and their antecedents had determined to replace ‘primitive’ Palestinian farming methods with the latest agricultural developments on the largest possible scale. Thanks to generous financial support from world Jewry, imports of well-boring machinery, tractors irrigation pipes, fertilizers, trucks, lumber, etc. poured into Jewish communities in Palestine. “Indeed, in the period between 1929 and 1940 Palestine’s important industrial machinery was valued at $29,500,000 [$540,090,000 in today’s dollars]. A still larger sum for transport vehicles, and agricultural machinery.” (Lowdermilk: Palestine Land of Promise).

A few, short decades of Israeli technology, intensive agriculture, and environmental contempt has left the soil so damaged that Israel’s Soil Conservation and Drainage Department of the Agricultural Ministry estimates that nearly half of country’s farm lands are at risk. Erosion from wind and water, exacerbated by intensive cultivation, salt buildup, and heavy farm equipment compacting the soil are making ‘primitive’ Palestinian methods look pretty good.

When Golda Meir first immigrated to Palestine in 1921 she had to have been met with agriculture built up and tended as a labor and love of the land by Palestinians she would later claim didn’t exist. Otherwise, what had happened to the lush terraced agriculture and fertile plains Captain Lynch described in 1848 Palestine? According to The Times special correspondent Phillip Graves writing in 1923, they were still there. He describes driving from the “…sandy steppe of Egypt …into the rich soil of Philistia and the Sharon Plain (a swath roughly from lower Gaza to Tel Aviv), a belt of flat prosperous tilth.” Graves also notes, “From Lydda, you have time to take car and drive to the outskirts of Jaffa to see the great orange groves, rich deep green leafage jeweled with golden fruit against the bright tawny dunes of the coast.” (the Jaffa groves were planted by Arabs in the 1800’s before Zionism was founded.)

Amnon Neumann, who took part in ethnic cleansing on the Jewish side, testified that in 1951 Arabs who had been pushed off their lands into Gaza would sneak back to their villages at night. “There was a special kind of agriculture in the dunes north of Gaza where the grape vines needed to be tended. So they would go there at night, they did not know they would never return. And we waited for them there…And we would shoot and kill them.”

Even today, it’s a long running complaint of Palestinian farmers in the occupied territories, that Jewish colonists not only take over their land but will, under protection of the Israeli army, drive front end loaders onto Palestinian farms, scrape up the top soil, load it onto dump trucks, and drive it back to Jewish farms. If Palestinian soil were really sub-par, as Israelis claim, why would they do that? And how did the concept of making the desert bloom take root in a place that was already populated and  cultivated?

The Jewish National Fund
The Jewish National Fund (JNF), formed in 1901 in Switzerland to buy Palestinian lands for European Zionism, has always been a key player in shifting Palestine’s baseline to the Israel we know today. This organization is intimately connected with the present regime and they are among the largest landowners in Israel, holding a reported 13 percent of the land. Diaspora Jews make donations large and small to Israel from all over the world through the JNF. Many Jews recall a distinctive box kept in their parent’s kitchens where the family would accrue money to donate. The Jewish National Fund seems to mean well, as far as Jewish interests go, but for Arab interests, not so. As far as the land’s interest, JNF is an example of the old saw, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Draining the Huleh Valley Lake and marsh in the 1950’s was a JNF project. Re-flooding a segment of Huleh Valley after the crops tanked, pesticides contaminated Lake Kinneret, the lake species were annihilated, and the peat started to burn was also a JNF project. Funding equipment to drill Jewish wells all over Palestine was JNF. When springs that had been around for millennia dried up as a consequence—that was also JNF. A series of reservoirs in the Negev was JNF. When the intercepted ground water no longer flowed to Gaza’s Coastal Aquifer—JNF. Planting 240 million trees—JNF. When thousands of acres of the trees burn like gasoline because so many of them are pines planted too close together—JNF. Expanding forests—JNF. Kicking Arab families off their land to do so—JNF.

Salt and suspended solids buildup in the soil
“Water transport still contributes an estimated 170,000 metric tons of chlorides to the soils and ground water in the center of the country.” Alon Tal. Seeking sustainability: Israel’s evolving water management strategy. Science Magazine. 08.25.2006

“The fact that rain isn’t falling is big trouble. The expenses are crazy. We’re irrigating in November and December, which we haven’t done before. Irrigation costs a lot of money. Secondly, we’re irrigating with treated waste water, and the rain purifies the land from salt. When there’s no rain, surplus salt accumulates in the land, and that damages the trees…In addition to all that, we don’t know what will happen to the ground water reservoirs we need for next year. We’re hanging by a thread with the reservoirs, and we don’t know what’s ahead. The water quotas for both waste water and potable water have been used up, and we’re paying a heavy toll in fines.” Johnny Aganmia, Kibbutz Matzura farmer, Western Galilee, on why the kibbutz was ripping out its fruit orchards.

Lake Kinneret becoming more salty is not just a problem for drinking water. Salty water pumped to the dry south via Israel’s National Water Carrier for irrigation is bad for the land. Kinneret water was saltier in 2017 than it has been in fifty years, including 2006 when Alon Tal wrote that 170,000 metric tons of chlorides were being dumped on the soil in the middle of the country.

Farmers can only use the soil as a coffee filter for so long. Over time salts and suspended solids deposited by irrigation water build up in the soil to the point where crops can no longer grow there. This includes deposits from wastewater Israel uses to water crops. Whatever’s in that water making it unfit for human consumption is leaching out into the ground and also being taken up into the plants. In his superb book, Cadillac Desert Marc Reisner describes in a compact and digestible way how salt builds up in soil and proposes that the great, ancient desert civilizations may have collapsed due to salt buildup rather than drought.

Israeli Forestry: Foreign pines replace ancient olive trees that had provided shade and a living for centuries
You sometimes see claims that the Jewish state is one of the few countries, or even the only country, to have more trees now than they did a hundred years ago. That’s not the case. The U.S. has more trees than it had a hundred years ago. Most of Europe has more trees—Ireland, for example, was under 1% forested when it achieved independence in 1929. Today Ireland is about 11% forested. France, Sweden, Finland, the UK and others all have more trees than they did a hundred years ago. We don’t have many of the ancient ‘big pumpkins’ that used to make up old growth forests, and we have severe problems with invasive insect species killing trees, but for the time being, and such as it is, we’ve got more forest than we did a hundred years ago.

Even if the Israeli forest statement were correct, Palestine a hundred years ago was a fairly low bar, having been relentlessly logged by Europeans and Ottomans for centuries. Compared with a country like Bhutan, with its 86% tree cover, Palestine in the early 1900’s wasn’t Longfellow’s ‘forest primeval.’ What they did have going for them in trees was orchards; the Jaffa orange groves and olives—especially olives.

a. olives are among the world’s oldest living trees. There are olive trees in the Mediterranean estimated to be over 3,000 years old and they still produce fruit.
b. Olive trees are well adapted to the region and can resist drought, disease and fire.
c. Olive trees are to Palestinians what buffalo were to Native Americans on the Great Plains. The olive harvest has long been the most important agricultural and social event in the Palestinian year. Tens of thousands of Palestinian households depended, and still depend, on olives for their livelihoods. Some families have tended the same trees for centuries.
d. Between 1967 and 2012 the Jewish state destroyed over 800,000 Palestinian olive trees. That would be the same as ripping out all the trees in New York’s City’s Central Park—33 times.
e. Jewish religious law prohibits destroying fruit bearing trees and yet Jews destroy thousands of Palestinian olive trees per year to this day.
f. If Israel had left them alone, the ghost trees of Palestinian olive orchards would be the largest forest in Israel.
g. Even the 1,800 acres of ghost olive trees Israel bulldozed and killed along the‘buffer zone’ Jewish troops have razed on the Gaza side of the segregation fence would make one of the larger forests in Israel.

American soil proponent and Zionist propagandist Walter C. Lowdermilk, who we will meet again in section 11, gave no credit to Arab agriculture for anything and so he had little to say about Palestinian olives. Still, a plank in his platform to rehabilitate soils was reforestation. Trees, he pointed out, hold soil in place which minimizes erosion. The Jewish National Fund adopted reforestation with a vengeance. It became a symbolic gesture for American Jews to plant a tree in Israel as a manifestation of their support for the Jewish State. Most of what they were planting a few decades ago was Aleppo pine. Those seemed like a good choice for an arid region because they’re drought resistant, grow quickly, store substantial carbon dioxide, and can replenish themselves quickly from cones that germinate after a fire.

Diaspora Jews visiting Israel would pay ten bucks, be handed a sapling and a shovel, and go out to plant on a hillside near Jerusalem. The Diaspora was shocked in 2000 when an Israeli newspaper published an expose’ about JNF workers ripping the saplings out as soon as the tourists were gone so the site would be clear before the next crowd showed up to climb the hill and plant trees in the Homeland. JNF responded to the scandal by threatening to sue the paper for libel. They also claimed it was an isolated incident, promised an investigation, and said that 60 percent of the trees planted there died anyhow.

The bad news with Aleppo pines is: they’re not great shade trees, their wood’s not worth much, and they’re resinous so they burn faster than a natural forest with species diversity. Trees in many areas were planted too close together. When such a forest goes months without rain, with strong easterly winds blowing, all it takes is a careless campfire or cigarette for the whole place to ignite explosively as sparks fly tree to tree on the wind.

Fire Season
A terrible fire roared through Mt. Carmel’s Forest in 2010 killing 44 people and burning thousands of acres. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government was entirely unprepared and had to plead for help from other countries, including the Turks who Israel had been loudly accusing of helping terrorists in the weeks before.

Israel’s approach to fire season is different than Americans and Canadians in the Western regions. For us, when haze tints the sun blood red a hundred miles away from the fires; communities, states, and provinces call out their firefighting equipment and mutual aid agreements bring in hot-shot crews from all over. Local people plan their evacuation routes. In the interior you see signs like, ‘Extreme Fire Hazard! Don’t Even Fart in the Forest!’

When it’s fire season in Israel, government officials, still inadequate to the challenge, go on TV and blame the Arabs. 2015, 2016, and 2017 saw big fires with 2016 burning almost as much acreage as the 2010 Carmel fires. More than 60,000 people had to be evacuated from Haifa.

Netanyahu’s government, with no evidence, blamed the fires on ‘arson terrorism’, and promised perpetrators would be caught and punished. They arrested about two dozen Palestinians, interrogated them for weeks, then quietly let the last of them go without prosecuting.

In 2018, as Gaza Palestinians participated in civil disobedience during the “Great March of Return” at the Gaza border, groups of young people actually did start hundreds of fires in southern Israel by lighting wicks doused with  combustibles on the Gaza side of the fence and sending them into Israeli territory on kites and balloons. The American media ran the ‘kite terror’ story in an endless loop.

At first most of the incendiaries did nothing or started small fires that were easily put out. As months went by without rain and the heat went  over 100 degrees F, Israeli snipers escalated shooting and killing Palestinians. (by fall over 200 Palestinians were dead/20,000 injured by shooting, tear gas etc.), the burning kite campaign escalated, too. By October Israel claimed thousands of acres had been burned or partially burned and was threatening to invade Gaza again.

Some things Americans might keep in mind about Israeli claims of extent of fire damage from Gaza kites. 1) During the heat wave in July, 2018 there were forest and brush fires burning all over Israel that had nothing to do with Gaza or Arabs. Those fires were virtually ignored in the American press. 2) Israeli government officials have a history of falsely accusing Palestinians of starting fires and inflating the extent of them. 3) Israel pays Jewish citizens compensation for damage by terrorist attacks. After the 2016 fires, Israeli politicians accusing Arabs of ‘pyro-terrorism’ sputtered into silence when hundreds of Israelis began lining up to be compensated by Israel’s national tax authority. 4) Every year Jewish colonists and the Israeli military burn Palestinian crops, usually just before harvest when things are driest. Arabs are not compensated for Jewish terrorism. 5) forest is a relative term. Israeli ‘forests’ around Gaza are mostly planted and have large tracts with few or no trees on them. So acreage estimates are open to scrutiny. 6) The Israeli government appears incapable of facing its role in the country’s failure-proven agricultural and forestry practices during fire season.

Burning tires and changing albedo
Albedo (litearlly whiteness) is something glaciologists talk about where I live. It’s a scale of light reflectability between zero and one. White reflects heat away. Black absorbs heat. Ground temperatures over 150 degrees Fahrenheit have been recorded in burned-over forest floors on a sunny day. Charcoal then, has an albedo of almost zero. Fresh snow’s albedo is almost one. When atmospheric dust lands on a glacier it lowers the albedo. You might not notice it walking on big ice in summer but a faint layer of dust and pollen is absorbing more heat and making the glacier melt faster. When we get multiple low snow years, dust layers collect on top of each other until the surface ice can be almost black in places.

I imagine the Middle East as a pure white ice field. Then I imagine what it would look like after all the smoke from all the fires and burning tires-fires great and small-starting in 1991 when Saddam Hussein torched 700 oil wells in Kuwait. Imagine the albedo change in 2006 when Israel bombed Lebanon’s Jiyeh Power Plant’s oil tanks darkening a hundred miles of coast with an oil slick and darkening hundreds of square miles of land as soot from tens of thousands of tons of burned oil settled out.  Imagine the settling soot from those gigantic, deliberate 2016 oil field fires in northern Iraq torched by IS, then add all the smoke from oil tankers, refineries, cars, trucks and industry. Then, add hundreds of square miles of dark roads and parking lots, the blackened earth from Israel’s annual fires in their planted pine forests, and then watch tire fires from protests in Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Yemen… Protesters burning tires to screen themselves from government drones and snipers that are targeting them has become a norm.  I get why they do it but the soot plumes they create are changing the land’s albedo, increasing heat, increasing evaporation until farming without intensive irrigation and other expensive infrastructure becomes impossible.

As Middle East land gets darker, the Middle East gets hotter.

Smashed soil
In America’s Mojave Desert you can still see tank tracks General Patton’s army left when they practiced there in 1942. Driving vehicles, even small ones, in a desert leaves lasting evidence. It’s easy to see how Israeli troops blasting across the countryside in sixty-ton Merkava IV tanks and even heavier Made in America, armored D-9 Caterpillar bulldozers, ruin crops. Not so obvious is how crushing the earth compromises soil respiration, its ability to absorb and retain water and how compacted soil makes it hard or impossible for young roots to penetrate.

On the face of things it would seem the people could plow up the land and carry on but, in speaking with soils biologists, it appears that heavy vehicles can compress soil lying meters below the surface, in some conditions creating hardpan that will never be the same.

In 2008 Israel damaged or destroyed thousands of acres of Palestinian cropland in Gaza during the, ‘Cast Lead’ invasion. Humanitarian news and analysis NGO IRIN reported UN figures that the Israelis destroyed 929 hectares (2,299 acres) of orchards and 500 hectares (1,235 acres) of vegetables. Initial monetary loss was estimated at $268 million but loss of food security and land is harder to measure.

Six years later, in 2014 Israel damaged or destroyed 85 percent of Gaza’s agricultural lands during the ‘Protective Edge’ invasion. The United Nations FAO estimated 17,000 hectares (42,000 acres) of cropland “as well as much of its agricultural infrastructure, including greenhouses, irrigation systems, animal farms, fodder stocks and fishing boats.” Much of that was done intentionally by grinding track vehicles back and forth, back and forth, back and forth over Palestinian farmland. What’s less well-known, and flat stupid, is that on that same military enterprise the Israeli army caused $350 million in damage to agriculture on the Israeli side. They wrecked 10,000 hectares of Israeli farm land, killed Israeli livestock, and generally made a mess of the place just driving around to hit civilian Gaza villages from different directions. According to the USDA, “In addition to direct damage to [Israeli] crops caused by heavy Israeli Defense Force vehicles, there has also been indirect long-lasting damage caused by these vehicles to the soil structure. Experts believe this damage will take approximately 10 years to remediate, the cost of which could total between $800 to $14,000 per hectare.”

Pesticides and herbicides
Israel has the highest pesticide use of any member country in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). In 2012 the Central Bureau of Statistics issued a report, “Survey of Pesticides in Agriculture 2008-2010” that revealed Israeli farmers averaged a staggering 3.5 tons of pesticides per 1,000 cultivated dunhams, (247 acres). That’s more that twice as much as the next highest, Japan, which uses 1.55 tons. Sweden used the least pesticides of all countries at just 40 kg for the same size area. As a result of Israel’s dousing poisons on its crops, some Israeli water sources carry as many as twenty different pesticides. Israel still permits pesticides posing serious human health risks that are banned in the U.S. and Europe. As erosion blocks creeks and drainages it spreads agricultural pesticides all over the landscape.

In addition to deliberately contaminating its own crops and people, Israel routinely sprays massive amounts of herbicides on the Gaza side of the border to destroy Palestinian crops and ruin land for agriculture. An estimated 3,500 acres of Gaza cropland and 2,000 acres of pasture and irrigation ponds have been compromised since 2014. Red Cross analysis shows contamination from Israeli spraying is so extensive the stuff has leached into the soil more than 1.3 miles inside the Gaza segregation barrier. Haaretz journalist Amira Haas’ July 2018 article, “Farm Warfare: How Israel uses chemicals to kill crops in Gaza” reports that among the poisons are glysophate, oxyflourfen, and diuron. Spraying kills bees/secondary pollinators and “exceptional damage was caused to shepherds, many of whom are women for whom shepherding is their way to add to the family income.”

Haas notes that Israel doesn’t like to talk about this tactic and that an Israeli court judge upon being allowed to see the evidence in secret ruled that, “information about areas being sprayed should not be revealed.” One Israeli spokesman claimed Israel coordinates spraying with officials with the International Committee of the Red Cross in Gaza. Red Cross officials denied that. Furthermore an ICRC spokesperson said, “We have clearly and repeatedly expressed our concerns to the Israeli authorities about the economical and environmental damage the spraying is causing, and the potential consequences for public health.”

In 2015 Israel messed up and sprayed a kibbutz near Gaza killing 12 acres of Jewish wheat and contaminating the land so badly that the kibbutz couldn’t plant the next crop rotation. The government paid the kibbutz $16,000 for damages. Israel doesn’t pay the Palestinians for damages. Instead, the Zionists turn more and more rich farmland—land Peter Graves called ‘prosperous tilth’ in the 1920’s—into a parched and blasted Mideast equivalent of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Dead Marshes.

Cloud seeding
When it comes to diving headlong into big, expensive water projects we Americans are like black-out drunks at last call. We forget all the environmentally ruinous, dried-up, silted-up, pointless pork-barrel projects clogging this country’s rivers from sea to shining sea, and turn to some new technology the way a forlorn alcoholic looks around the bar for love.

Cloud seeding was one of those forlorn hopes. Cloud seeding is the practice of shooting some chemical compound, usually silver iodine, into clouds to make water crystals form around the compound and precipitate out as rain or snow. Israelis were big into that starting in the 1970’s. They were especially diligent about seeding clouds over Lake Kinneret so the rain (and chemicals) would fall into the water supply. The claim was that rain increased by an average 13 percent adding 60 million cubic meters of water to Israel’s water budget. Concerns that seeding clouds in one area would deprive other areas of rain seemed unfounded. Somehow rain in areas adjacent to cloud seeding areas also got more rain. With that kind of success other countries were soon inviting Mekorot workers to help them start cloud seeding programs, too. Then, in 2010, three Israeli scientists published a paper revealing that the initial studies in the 70’s had been done in years of higher rain due to offshore weather patterns in the eastern Mediterranean so it rained more whether clouds were seeded or not.

Drip Irrigation
If rain occurs at long intervals, crops suffer unless they are planted in soil deep enough to store moisture.” Walter C. Lowdermilk: U.S. water consultant for Zionism, Palestine Land of Promise. 1944

What we have found is that as a consequence of putting water on the crops more precisely—actual water consumption can go up.” Frank Ward, New Mexico State University, Department of Agriculture.

There’s a claim that the concept of precise irrigation with little water loss came about when an Israeli farmer noticed one day that a tree grew larger than its neighbors after receiving more water through a leak in the hose. If you think about it, a desert tree growing larger if it gets more water is hardly breaking news.

With drip irrigation water goes directly to the plants giving higher yields per acre. To non-farmers, or corporate farmers looking for short-term gain, it might seem like love at first sight but before getting carried away, its worth considering the advice of some of our own agriculture experts who are skeptical that drip irrigation is an agricultural savior. It may turn out that drip irrigation is a land based equivalent to desalination, or cloud seeding, where aspects that don’t fit the narrative are being swept under the rug until the consequences become so pronounced that denial is no longer an option. Some recognitions:

Traditional irrigation allows water to sink into the ground where, as Zionist consultant Lowdermilk pointed out, in good soil, the land traditionally could carry crops to harvest with no irrigation at all. The notion that water going into the ground is ‘wasted’ is an outdated one. Water going into the ground replenishes springs and aquifers. What farmer A calls wasted water can be vital to farmers B and C and to the land in ways people don’t understand, such as percolating through underground corridors to water centuries old trees on a desert oasis and thereby sustaining the last remnants of an ecosystem.

In addition, if you drip irrigate with waste water the soil still has to be flushed with fresh, clean water, otherwise whatever scuzz in the waste water that makes it undrinkable clogs the little drip holes in your hoses and/or will build up in the soil until it kills your plants. On a small level, homesteaders Mark Hamilton and Anna Hess who tried it say drip didn’t work for them because it’s expensive, is meant for rows rather than raised beds, the hoses have to be rotated with crops if you’re moving to another field, it uses a lot of plastic, and the whole thing has to be set up just right and maintained continuously or it can actually use more water than traditional irrigation.

Plants transpire (exhale moisture) less when the plant has some environmental stress from lower than optimal water. Without that stress the plant grows at its peak rate, the farmer has a higher yield, makes more money and is happy but uses more water to do it. And finally, there is the matter of scale. Everyone recognizes drip irrigation works in some venues but you could lose Israeli agriculture in some counties of American farm states.

(*Graphic at top by artist Kari Dunn

Recognition 8: Desecrated Farm Land: Sources

05.03.2015 Israel’s iron lady unfiltered: 17 Golda Meir quotes on her 117th birthday Haaretz by Jud Yadid.
03.01.1850 Narrative of the United States expedition to the River Jordan and the Dead Sea, by W.F. Lynch, USN, Commander of the Expedition, 386 pp. Lea and Blanchard, Philadelphia.
1922 Palestine, land of three faiths by Peter Graves George H. Doran Company, New York.
04.25. 2016 Nearly half of Israel’s farmland threatened by over processing, climate change
 Haaretzby Zafrif Rinat.
12.27.2011 Testimony of Amnon Neumann YouTube 13:52 min (43,526 views as of October, 2018) An old man confesses atrocities he and other Jewish soldiers committed taking over Palestinian farms during the Nakba. Hebrew with English sub-titles.
08.25.2006 Seeking sustainability: Israel’s evolving water management strategy. Science Magazine. by Alon Tal.
10.11.2012 West Bank Settlers stealing tons of soil from West Bank Palestinian land HaaretzI by Chaim Levinson.
1.20.2016 Israeli farmers uprooting fruit trees as rains fail. Globes: Israel’s business arena. by Ilanit Hayut.

7.04.2000 Israeli tree planting group aghast after scandal unearthed Los Angeles Times by Tracy Wilkinson.
October 2013 800,000 Olive trees uprooted, 33 Central Parks—Visualizing
October 2012 Olive Harvest Factsheet United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs occupied Palestinian territory.
Size of the olive ghost tree forest is my estimate based upon the area it would take to plant those more than 800,000 dead olive trees the Israeli’s killed, spaced according to dry land farming of olive trees described in ‘Plants Per Acre’ by the Olive Oil Source website. (that 800 K figure is more than 5 years old. I haven’t found a more recent estimate but the number of dead trees is a lot higher now).
olives: from Israelis stealing Palestinian olive harvests, to killing trees, to uprooting whole groves there are too many stories to count. It happens all the time and tt’s been going on for decades. Look ’em up. Here are a few.
08.05.2018 Settlers destroy 2000+ Palestinian-owned trees and vines backed by Israeli authorities B’Tselem The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.
9.25.18 Settlers uproot fruiting olive trees near Hebron International Middle East Media Center.
10.04.18 In video – settlers steal olive harvest in Nablus. Maan News
10.15.18 Settlers uproot olive trees in Bethlehem. Middle East Monitor
10.18.2015 Hundreds of trees destroyed in West Bank Palestinian villages, Israeli rights group reports Haaretz by Amira Haas. Move olive trees destroyed by Israeli terrorists.

date? After the fire: indirect effects on the forest soil.
05.18.2015 Fires sweep through Israel, West Bank amid heat wave Ma’an News Agency
07.24.2015 Massive forest fire rages in Jerusalem area Haartez by Nir Hasson.
1.25.2016 Haifa residents cleared to go back home after fires; 600-700 damaged Times of Israel, TOI staff. Over 60,000 residents evacuated from Haifa.
11.26.2016 Israeli leader calls for demolition of homes belonging to Palestinian ‘arsonists’ Maan News. Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, with nothing else to offer.
11.30.2016 Forest fires in Israel will only get worse in coming years, experts warn Haaretz by Nir Hasson.
12.05.2016 Why planting more trees in Israel is a bad idea right now Jewish Telegraph Service by Jay Shofet.
12.07.2016 Were the Israeli fires arson terror claims premature and exaggerated? The Jerusalem Post via JTA. “Instead of calming the [Israeli] population, which is the task of leaders, Israeli politicians did the reverse and claimed an ‘arson intifada.’ That’s just not wise, to put it very mildly.” Yoram Schweitzer, Israeli terrorism consultant.
01.22.2017 Despite Netanyahu’s claim, still no evidence of ‘Terrorist Arson’ in Israeli fires. Haaretzby Nir Hasson.
01.25.2017 What happened to claims of ‘Arson Terror Attacks’? YNet News by Roi Yanovsky. One of the fires this year was caused by an Israeli occupation trooper shooting a flare bomb at Arabs.
10.28.2017 Hundreds of acres burned in Jerusalem forest fire Jerusalem Post by Uri Shaham. 500 acres up in flames over a weekend.
06.15.2018 Hundreds of fires broke out in Israel due to burning kites from Gaza Haaretz by Jonathan Lis.
06.05.2018 Minister calls for targeted killing of kite bombers, Hamas leaders Times of Israel by TOI staff. Gilad Erdan again.  This time calling for assassination of Palestinian kids flying burning kites towards Israel.
07.20.2018 Lieberman says Israel planning assault on Gaza bigger than 2014 invasion in which 2100 Palestinians killed International Middle East Media. Israel’s Defense Minister’s response to burning kites.
07.25.2018 Israel hit by record-breaking heatwave;fires rage throughout the country Times of Israelby TOI staff. “Several large fires broke out in the afternoon at the Horshim Forest in Central Israel, and the Ahihud Forest in the North, as well as at the Churchill Forest near Nazareth Illit.” Article notes that these were not started by incendiary kites or balloons from the Gaza protests.
06.26.2018 Israeli settlers burn 300 olive trees in Nablus Maan News
03.21.2017 Small farmers struggle worldwide but Palestinian farmers have it really rough Washington Post by Anne-Marie O’Conner.
05.14.2015 Burning Gold: Israel’s destruction of Jordan Valley harvests The New Arab by Alice Gray. from the article this vignette about the Israeli army setting Palestinian crops afire:  “They came at six in the morning and told us to get out,” he told al-Araby al-Jadeed. “We couldn’t return to our home until six in the evening, and we couldn’t send our children to school. We spent the whole day on the mountain by al-Hadidiya, in the sun and the wind. When we returned, our neighbour’s land had been burned.”
The sounds of explosions and the rattle of gunfire can be heard throughout the area, while helicopters whir overhead and heavy lorries rattle by, delivering tanks to Israeli military bases. The Israeli army spokesperson says the families were evacuated for their own safety – and that the army has enlisted a special fire extinguishing squad to participate in the drill. Yet the hillsides around Herbaiet al-Homra are scorched black where both crops and scrub have burned.
“It’s not just the crops that are important,” says Rashed Sawaftah. “If the scrublands burn, the farmers will have nowhere to graze their animals.”
11.30.2016 Israel fire: police deny claims that fires were caused by ‘Terrorism’ Haaretz by Yaniv Kubovich and Gili Cohen. Describes government backing off on arson claims as Israelis line up for compensation of ‘terrrorism’.
The National Snow and Ice Data Center has a nice description of albedo in their ‘all about sea ice’ section.
1999 Fire effects on below ground sustainability: a review and synthesis Forest Ecology and Management vol 122 51-71. by Daniel Neary et al.

smashed soil
10.15.2009 Farmers struggle with damaged agricultural land IRIN Report on impacts to agriculture from 2008/9 Gaza invasion.
08.14.2014 Gaza: Damage to agriculture will have long-lasting effects United Naitons FAO
11.20.2014 Exporter Guide USDA Foreign Agricultural Service—GAIN Report. Prepared by Gilad Shachar, Approved by Orestes Vasquez, Sr. Agricultural Attaché’.  “In addition to direct damage to crops caused by heavy Israeli Defense Force vehicles, there has also been indirect long-lasting damage caused by these vehicles to the soil structure…”etc
11.01.2012 ‘Israel uses more pesticides than any OECD country’ The Jerusalem Post by Sharon Udasin
01.24.17 Israeli forces spray weed killers near Gaza, burn Palestinian crops Maan News. 03.19.2018 Israel is intensifying its war on Gaza farmers The New Arab by Ali Adam. Israeli crop dusters spraying poisons on Gaza crops.
07.09.2018 Farm Warfare: how Israel uses chemicals to kill crops in Gaza  Haaretz by Amira Haas.
cloud seeding
2009 Cloud seeding seen as blessed solution for Israel’s dry winter Aruz Sheva by Abraham Zuroff.
09.2010 Reassessment of rain enhancement experiments and operations in Israel including synoptic considerations Atmospheric Research vol 97 Issue 4, pg 513-525. by Zev Levin, Noam Halfon, Pinhas Alpert.

drip irrigation
(date?) disadvantages of drip irrigation,
 The Walden Effect Blog by Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton.

10.17.2018 ‘Efficient’ Irrigation tool may deplete more water Worldwatch Institute by Ben Block
09.23.2008 Water Conservation in Irrigation can increase water use Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Frank A. Ward and Manuel Pulido-Velazquez

Enter your email address below to receive our latest articles right in your inbox.