Inside Israel

Israel Falsely Accused of Murdering Gazan Bees


Al-Monitor have a report that blames a decline on bee populations in Gaza mainly on Israel spraying toxic pesticides. Deliberately to harm Gazans, of course.

The Gaza Strip is witnessing a major decline in the bees that used to swarm farmland and gardens across the coastal enclave.

Many Gazans accuse Israel of the deliberate killing and displacement of bees by spraying toxic pesticides near apiaries and flowering trees in border areas, which have also been heavily bulldozed in the name of security.

Honey production represents an important field of agriculture in the Gaza Strip. It is also one of the least expensive products, needing only access to the nectar of flowering plants.

However, the sector is also one of the most affected by Israeli activities, as most production takes place along the border with Israel.

As a result of urban sprawl and a lack of farmland in Gaza, many beekeepers place hives on the eastern border with Israel, where many crops are grown on Israeli territory. The bees freely cross the border and return, also pollinating crops inside the Gaza Strip.

Gaza has two honey seasons, in spring and summer. The spring season, when flowers are plentiful, produces honey of a higher quality and in greater abundance. In summer, flowers are almost nonexistent and beekeepers must feed sugar to the bees, negatively affecting the honey’s quality and quantity.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture in Gaza, so far, the year 2022 has seen a decrease in honey production, with only 50 tons of honey compared to the usual 200 tons in previous years.

According to the ministry, the decline is due to many reasons including Israel targeting beehives and the surrounding farms with toxic pesticides and leveling the lands, in addition to weather fluctuations, which have caused the death of some bee populations and the migration of others.

Apiarist Ahmed Wafi owns 55 beehives. He told Al-Monitor that this year he was only able to produce five kilograms of honey compared to about 13 kilograms last year.

“The Israeli practices are the main reason behind the destruction of the honeybee production season. The bulldozing operations of agricultural lands and the pesticides sprayed on trees and flowers caused large numbers of bees to perish, which drastically decreased production,” he lamented.

Wafi added that the decline in production will hurt citizens who are eagerly awaiting the new harvest, as many use local honey in cooking and even in treating diseases and are reluctant to buy imported honey, which they deem of low quality compared to the local product.

Israeli actions in the area are threatening to destroy the profession in Gaza. There has also been an enormous hike in beehive prices, in addition to the risks and dangers facing beekeepers along the border, where they could be shot at by Israeli soldiers deployed on the frontier.

Farmer Jamal al-Daya used to own 130 beehives but had to give up this business after his apiary was destroyed by Israeli warplanes during the last round of fighting with Israel in May 2021.

“I don’t think I’ll go back to the same business. The honey production has declined with thousands of bees perishing, not to mention the increase in beehive prices, with the price of one box reaching 600 Israeli shekels [$180] compared to 200 shekels [$60] before,” he told Al-Monitor.

Imad Ghazal, the head of the Cooperative Society of Beekeepers in Gaza, said that the beekeeping sector is one of the Gaza Strip’s most important agricultural sectors that employs about 320 beekeepers.

He added that the coastal enclave is home to some 18,000 hives spread along the eastern borders, with an annual production of 200 tons of honey, a quantity that meets 80% of the local demand.

“The production has drastically decreased due to Israeli harassment,” Ghazal told Al-Monitor.

“Palestine’s honey is considered some of the best in the world, especially date, and Sidr honey. Palestine is also a destination for bee populations, where the climate is moderate and agricultural crops are abundant. Israel, however, has been deliberately trying to destroy this sector,” he said, blaming its activities for a sharp drop in production and lower quality honey.

Ghazal added that the decline in honey production this year was expected, as a result of the repeated spraying of agricultural crops with pesticides by Israeli planes.

“Quantities are likely to decline even more in light of the heated and tense security situation in Gaza, and the possibility of a military escalation that threatens most apiaries with destruction,” he said.

“There are dozens of beekeepers who gave up on their occupation during the past few years as a result of the repeated destruction of their apiaries, in addition to Israel preventing the importation of antifungal treatments, most notably Varroa, under the pretext of the dual use of these drugs, which could allegedly be used in the military resistance. As a result, thousands of bees have perished, production has taken a major blow and financial returns were slashed,” he said.

AP have a video report with some also blaming Israeli pesticides, but their words indicate it is not deliberate.

7. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Malek Qudieh, beekeeper: “We faced difficulties and tough situations. The first challenge that was out of our control is acts carried out by the Zionist occupation (referring to Israel) as we are close to the border fence. They use aircraft to spray pesticides on trees, affecting the bees when they reach the flowers.”

Last year, Qudieh produced hundreds of kilograms of pure honey, but this year he estimates he will merely harvest 150 kilograms. The main reason for the decline, he says, is the pesticides sprayed by Israeli aircraft on the other side of the fence. Wind carries the chemicals westbound to Gaza, killing the bees when they approach blossoms that carry the pesticides.

Is it possible Israeli pesticides are harming bees in Gaza? Yes, but then they would be harming bees also in Israel. And there is no question it isn’t deliberate. But what the above reports do not mention are Israeli efforts to save bee populations. Just a week ago, the website No Camels showcased six Israeli companies utilizing tech to save bees. It also reveals that dwindling bee populations is a global phenomenon:

Global bee populations have been declining at a rate of about 35 percent per year, and with bees’ critical role in the food cycle, this decline has endangered much of the world’s food supply.

Drought, climate change, mites, and excessive use of agricultural chemicals are some of the root causes for dwindling bee colonies, but if that’s not enough, bee populations are also disappearing thanks to a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder (CCD). This occurs when “the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind a queen, plenty of food and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees and the queen,” according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

Note how it lists other culprits besides just excessive use of agricultural chemicals, including climate change. This is likely a main culprit behind the reduction in Gaza’s bee population. In fact, both the above reports do mention weather fluctuations as a reason, but gloss over it and instead focus on the big, bad Zionists.

Incidentally, the following TRT report from earlier this year, blamed it not just on pesticides but also on Israel firing toxic gas and smoke grenades, the shortage of trees following Israeli attacks, and Israel shooting at farmers:

Note how the “journalist” ends by saying “Worldwide, disease, pesticides, and global heating are some of the main reasons bee colonies die. But in Gaza, it’s more about the Israeli attacks.” Yet we just saw how the Al-Monitor report and parts of the AP report just blamed it on Israeli pesticides.

It should be clear that these Israel-haters are just making things up as they go along.

Update: This isn’t the first time we have been accused of killing palestinian bees.

But let’s face it – he had it coming!

Although unlike honey, his death didn’t stick.


Tags: bee Gaza Israel libels

David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media

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