All wet in Gaza

30 October 2012

The BBC gets it wrong again

Aquaponics may have a big future in Gaza. But the BBC in Growing vegetables without soil on Gaza’s rooftops manages to cram two demonstrable falsehoods into one colour piece and still manage to pad it out with anti-Israel sniping pretending to be journalism.

Gaza is NOT ‘one of the most densely populated areas in the world’

Yet again with the one of the most densely populated areas in the world lie. No it is not! I wrote about what can only be described as an urban myth in detail in Just dense. The relevant section is this:

Taking figures from BBC sources, Gaza, population of 1.4 million living on a land area of 365 km² has a density of 3,836 persons per square kilometre. To help you get an idea of how big that is, 360 sq. km is precisely the same area as the city of Montreal. That gives it a population density about 16% of ‘hotspots’ Monaco (23,660 per km²) and 22% of Macau (17,699 per km²). It also falls behind Hong Kong (6,407 per km²); Singapore (6,200 per km²) and Gibraltar (4,654 per km²).

If we consider urban population density, as we should, Gaza is less crowded than London (4,699 per km²) or Portsmouth (4,689 per km²) and just about any major city you could name. Ironically, Israeli cities Tel Aviv (7,445 per km²) and Bnai Brak (20,076 per km²) are far denser than Gaza although no one would consider that extraordinary, as similar figures are so common.

Here is a nice graphic showing Gaza’s population density relative to the other places.

Gaza population density relative to other places

Gaza is not so dense
Source: The Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs
Click for hi-res image

Residential growth has NOT crowded out all agricultural land

Nor is the claim that all of the Gaza strip agricultural land is now residential, likely to be true. In the BBC video the claim is made by a Gazan roof farmer that there is no land for cultivation due to construction. In following the BBC tradition any Palestinian claim is let pass without challenge. Perhaps Roopa Suchak hadn’t read Jon Donnison (advisable if one wants a factual and not agenda driven analysis) or perhaps she teleported in and failed to see the empty space and agriculture on the way to Gaza City?

I haven’t been able to discover indisputably what percentage of the Gaza Strip is residential, agricultural or desert but I did find that Hamas Bans Israeli Fruit Imports Into ‘Self-Sufficient’ Gaza Strip The claimed fruit harvest of 70,000 tons per year together with the vegetable harvest of 300,000 tons (98% self-sufficiency for vegetables) suggest strongly that there is still farmland in Gaza </SARC>.

Some claim that 30% of Gaza is agricultural land. Satellite imagery seems to confirmed this but as I said that may be a guesstimate. Check it out for yourself on Google Earth.

Plenty of space in Gaza for agriculture

Green and brown land in Gaza. It’s not all houses. Google Maps World Gazetteer
Click for larger image

 Close-up on Gaza farmland shows orchards, fields, greenhouses and plowed land

Close-up on Gaza farmland shows orchards, fields, greenhouses and plowed land Google Maps World Gazetteer
Click for larger image

Gaza’s agriculture is struggling due to many reasons and the security situation is definitely one of them. But even without Israel the problems of water quality and availability plus problems with fertility would be a severe limiting factor and encourage aquaponics.

BTW Israel is a world aquaponics leader so it wouldn’t be at all surprising if the technology or even the equipment is Israeli in origin. Just don’t expect the BBC to tell you that.

About David Guy

B.A./B.C.A. (Communication and Media Arts) University of Wollongong, AUSTRALIA M.A. in Government (Diplomacy and Conflict Studies) Inter Disciplinary Center, Herzliya, ISRAEL Twitter @5MFI
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