The Palestinians who took over the Jewish greenhouses in the Gaza Strip when Israel withdrew its communities from the area now are asking expelled farmers for advice after reportedly failing to reproduce the region's famous insect-free vegetables, WND has learned.
Prior to Israel's August withdrawal, the residents of Gaza's Gush Katif slate of Jewish communities ran greenhouses known for producing high-quality insect-free vegetables. The Gush Katif gardens featured some of the most technologically advanced agricultural equipment and accounted for more than $100 million per year in exports to Europe. The greenhouses also supplied Israel with 75 percent of its own produce.
The hothouses were passed to the Palestinians in September in a $14 million deal brokered by former World Bank President James Wolfenson and several wealthy Jewish Americans.
Earlier this month, the Palestinians now running the greenhouses reportedly told the Israeli-Palestinian Economic Cooperation Fund they failed in their efforts to grow bug-free produce.
Now the Palestinian owners have asked the United States Agency for International Development, which has been involved in reconstruction efforts in Gaza, to hire former Jewish Gaza greenhouse owners as consultants for their declining vegetable businesses.
Eitan Hederi, a former Gaza farmer who represented Gush Katif residents in the Wolfenson greenhouse transfer told WND, "The Palestinians are privately turning to U.S. AID to hire us because we are experts in this kind of farming. It's a really complex process that we engineered."
Anita Tucker, an expelled Gaza resident and one of the pioneer farmers of Gush Katif, told WND, "I am not at all surprised the Palestinians are failing. When they worked in our greenhouses they needed to be monitored closely. Many didn't understand certain things, like not using different kinds of chemicals. Plus when we were in Gaza, our efforts were blessed by God."
Tucker explained she and other Katif farmers engineered agricultural technology specific to the dry, sandy Gaza conditions.
"We used different kinds of netting, also aluminum, since we knew the reflection of the sun kept bugs away," she said. "We used colors because we knew certain kinds of bugs were attracted to or kept away from different colors. We used certain organic insecticides for certain plants, and were very strict about which chemicals we used. We kept our greenhouses as clean as possible. And we also had our own proprietary inventions and technology."
Asked if she would serve as a consultant for the new Palestinian owners of her former greenhouses, Tucker said, "Probably not. We see the terror coming out of Gaza, coming out of the neighborhood I used to live in, and it's just horrible. Hamas has taken over different parts of Gush Katif and are firing rockets into Israel. I am not saying the Palestinian farmers are involved, but it seems they are not doing enough to stop the terror."
Haderi, who says he already has been asked by U.S. AID to consult on greenhouse technology, said, "I am still thinking about it. It's a very difficult decision."