On Tuesday, January 14, 2020, Israeli crop-duster planes flew along the perimeter fence separating Gaza and Israel, spraying chemicals assumed to be herbicides into the Strip. Israel continued to conduct aerial herbicide spraying along additional sections of the perimeter fence on Wednesday, January 15, as well on the morning of January 16. Each morning, the spraying was conducted sporadically for about four hours, with the sprayed chemicals reaching Palestinian farmlands inside Gaza.
Palestinian farmers who were working the land west of the perimeter fence on Tuesday morning told Al Mezan that at about 7:20 am, they saw plumes of black smoke emanating from Israel’s side of the fence, a practice used in the past as a means to discern wind direction. A few minutes later, crop-duster planes flew along the perimeter fence spraying chemicals believed to be herbicides, carried by westward-blowing winds into the Strip. Over the course of the three days, aerial spraying was conducted in areas adjacent to the fence stretching from Beit Hanoun in the north of the Strip and all the way south to the section of the fence to the east of Khan Yunis. Samples from affected fields have been sent for lab testing, and the results are expected next week.
On Thursday, January 16, human rights organizations Gisha, Adalah and Al Mezan sent a letter (Hebrew) to Israel’s Minister of Defense Naftali Bennett, Military Advocate General Sharon Afek, and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit with an urgent demand to refrain from conducting further aerial spraying of herbicides inside and near the Gaza Strip, due to the severe damage to crops and the health risks to Gaza residents.