Feature: Farmers in S. Lebanon suffer heavy losses due to border conflict with Israel-Xinhua

Feature: Farmers in S. Lebanon suffer heavy losses due to border conflict with Israel

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2023-11-27 21:21:30

BEIRUT, Nov. 27 (Xinhua) -- Adel al-Hajj, a 60-year-old farmer, stands anxiously in the middle of his cow farm in Lebanon's southern village of Mays al-Jabal, reflecting on the heavy losses caused by the drop in milk sales following the Lebanese-Israeli border confrontations.

With a tired, gloomy face and in a choked voice, al-Hajj told Xinhua that cow farmers have no choice but to dispose of the milk, which spoils rapidly amid the power outage caused by Israeli artillery shelling.

The Israeli bombing also obstructed the provision of fodder and limited local veterinarians' practice, causing many cows to die during the past few weeks, al-Hajj said. "We fear that many more will die if the conflict continues in the coming days."

The confrontations on the Lebanese-Israeli borders since Oct. 8 led to the displacement of a large number of people in border villages and the closure of most industrial, commercial, and service institutions, paralyzing the economy in southern Lebanon.

Ali Ghanem, a 30-year-old herder in the southeast village of Arqoub, told Xinhua that herders, farmers, and traders are the most affected by border confrontations.

The about 85 shepherds in Arqoub were unable to herd their livestock due to the Israeli bombing, which has killed two shepherds in Wazzani village and dozens of goats and sheep, he said.

"Many shepherds transported their livestock on foot to neighboring Syrian villages where the local shepherds can help look after them until peace returns to our region, while others moved with their herds to villages in Bekaa in eastern Lebanon," Ghanem said.

Youssef Fayyad, mayor of the southern town of al-Mari, told Xinhua that half of the 100 chicken farms in the border areas were destroyed by Israeli attacks, which killed thousands of poultry -- the main source of livelihood for their owners.

The chicken farms that remained suffered from power outages and feed scarcity, he said, adding that companies have also stopped sending experts here to help with poultry farming.

Olive farmers and beekeepers were also among those being affected.

"Like thousands of farmers, I had to abandon my garden that grows 350 perennial olive trees, whose oil production exceeds 100 gallons yearly," said Hassan al-Ahmad, a 63-year-old farmer in the southeast village of El Majidiye.

Majed al-Halabi, head of the beekeepers' association in southeast Lebanon, said the confrontations kept beekeepers from accessing and taking care of their bees.

Bees -- the source of livelihood for the 750 beekeepers in border areas -- are at risk of dying as they need to be fed with sugar in the absence of flowers in the rainy season.

"In such case, we will lose both the honey season and beehives," al-Halabi said.

Lebanese Agriculture Minister Abbas Hajj Hassan told Xinhua his ministry is exerting efforts through the Higher Relief Commission and international donor associations to help the affected farmers.

"We are working on a comprehensive survey to assess the damage caused by the Israeli bombing, which affected an area of more than 900 hectares and burned about 55,000 olive trees," said Hajj Hassan.

The Lebanon-Israel border witnessed increased tensions for weeks after Lebanese armed group Hezbollah fired dozens of rockets toward Shebaa Farms on Oct. 8 in support of the Hamas attacks on Israel on the previous day, prompting the Israeli forces to respond by firing heavy artillery toward several areas in southeastern Lebanon.