Reports: Planes Mass Spraying Pesticides as a Weapon of War in the Middle East


By On December 28, 2015

A farmer in Gaza tends to his crops.

Most people still don’t realize that the world’s largest seed company, Monsanto, was heavily involved in the production of Agent Orange, a devastating chemical used in the Vietnam War that caused unspeakable damage to humans and the environment.

Agent Orange was designed to strip the Vietnamese environment of its dense jungle cover to aid in military campaigns. It demonstrates toxic herbicides are not only capable of harming health and the environment, but also capable of being used as weapons of war.

Decades later, herbicides are once again being weaponized, this time in the Gaza Strip where it has been reported that Israeli planes have utilized the chemicals to kill large amounts of crops, punishing local citizens already suffering under the harsh effects of occupation.

The Israeli military has admitted to spraying crop-killing herbicides on hundreds of acres of farmland near the border fence. Spinach, pea, parsley and bean crops were reportedly destroyed.

Shai Grunberg, spokesperson for Gisha, an Israeli rights organization, condemned the sprayings, which lasted for several days straight.

“Spraying crop-killing pesticides, like opening fire at people of all ages and gender in the vicinity of the fence, puts civilian lives at risk and hurts livelihoods,” he said. Unarmed farmers and scrap collectors are reportedly shot in this area, which the Israeli side maintains as a “no-go zone.”

The army reportedly prefers to keep the border areas as clean of vegetation as possible to maintain sight lines for what they say are possible threats approaching the fence areas, which may include either barbed wire or even large concrete walls with guard towers.

Wael Thabet, head of the plant protection department at the Gaza Agriculture Ministry, said that several farmers informed him that Israeli planes had sprayed their lands with pesticides, killing off important crops.

A recent study found that people in the area, on the other side of the fence, have a dramatically higher risk of Parkinson’s Disease due to exposure to similar pesticides, which could be bad news for those in the region exposed to this past week’s sprayings.

Nick Meyer writes for March Against Monsanto and the website Editor’s note: The USDA classifies herbicides as pesticides, hence the widespread use of this “umbrella” term in the media.