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Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
23 August 2005
Beit Hanoun: Northeast Gaza Strip
Satellite Image Analysis of Vegetation Loss 2001– 2004
During the last three years, the Israeli Defense Forces conducted extensive levelling of citrus orchards in Beit Hanoun in the northeastern Gaza Strip. Their explanation was that the trees were providing cover for Palestinian militants to launch homemade rockets into the Israeli town of Siderot. (See summary of events on page 2).
Citrus trees are a long term agricultural investment and take five years or more to develop into a mature fruit producing tree. The result of the clearing has been a significant drop in the productive capacity of Beit Hanoun contributing to rising unemployment and a further income loss for the northern Gaza Strip economy.
Satellite Image Analysis – 2001 and 2004
A comparison was made of two satellite images covering 108.2 hectares in north Beit Hanoun.
The first was taken in October 2001 and the second in October 2004 (see Satellite map page 3 - 4). The major findings from this analysis are as below:
land covered by trees dropped from 47.5 hectares to 18.2 hectares – a decrease of 62%
“vegetation” as a percentage of total land cover dropped from 49.9% to 22.4%
47.5% of total land in the area is now “bare” compared to 18.7% in October 2001. The number of uncultivated hectares has risen from 20.3 to 51.5 hectares.
Palestinian locality or village population figures are taken from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) 2005 projected populations based on a 1997 census.
Due to clouds and shadows in the 2004 image, only visible sections of were analysed and a mask was used to remove these features ; Measurement for land (1 acre = 4 dunums = 0.4 hectare).
Total vegetation for this analysis includes: trees and mixed vegetation (cultivated and natural)