Friday, January 22, 2010

Dozens of Houses and Properties Flooded as the IOF Opens Dam Gates for Rain Water in the Gaza Valley, Al Mezan Condemns the Israeli Unwarned Conduct


For the second time in the past ten years, at approximately 6pm on Monday 18 January 2010, Israel opened the floodgates of one of the dams in the Gaza Valley, which flows into Gaza from the east. As a result, dozens of Palestinian houses and properties were damaged. Israel built this floodgate to prevent the rainwater's natural flow into Gaza, depriving the Gaza aquifer from its main natural source of underground water.

According to Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights field workers, the water flooded both sides of the Gaza Valley, causing harm to the Palestinian houses; agricultural land and other properties.

Dozens of Bedouin families live in that area. According to Al Mezan's field workers, about 50 families live in tents in that area. Water reached about two meters above the valley's level and flooded their houses. Other families who have been living in the watercourse in the valley, which has been dry for many years due to the Israeli dams, had left the area two days before the flood occurred due to the heavy rain.  The mayor of the Gaza Valley village (Juhr Ad-Dik) told Al Mezan that about seventy houses were flooded, dozens of poultry and sheep died, and several personal belongings were damaged as people were surprised by the sudden flow of water.

Al Mezan condemns the Israeli conduct which came without any prior warning or coordination with local authorities or international organizations working in Gaza. Israel keeps a close eye on Gaza and knows well the possible catastrophic consequences of such a huge, sudden water flow. A similar situation had occurred when the so-called Nahal Oz dam suddenly collapsed nine years ago, on 26 March 2001. Hundreds of donams of agricultural lands; chicken and cow farms; and rural houses were damaged. Then, the Israeli authorities took precautions on their side of the border before the collapse; however, they did not inform the Palestinian authorities with whom they had regular coordination at the time.

In the light of the above, Al Mezan asserts that the Israeli authorities bear the responsibility for the moral and physical damages resulted from this sudden water flow into the Gaza Valley. Al Mezan calls upon the international community to take effective steps to stop the Israeli violations against Palestinian civilians; including the policy of preventing the natural flow of water into the Gaza Strip amid an acute shortage in drinking water in the Strip.

Army Shoots at Palestinian Farmers and ISM Volunteers in Gaza, near Israeli Border

posted on the ISM webpage

Thursday 21 January 2010,
ISM Gaza
Three ISM volunteers and five farmers from Abu Tayima, Gaza were fired at by the Israeli army as they attempted to sow wheat on their land near the Israeli border.

A long awaited rainfall in Gaza several days ago created good conditions for wheat sowing on this dangerous plot of land where in the past farmers were shot at by the Israeli soldiers as they patrol the border.

One hour after arriving when sowing and ploughing were in full swing, two Israeli army jeeps drove alongside the border fence and stopped.  A number of soldiers were seen moving between the two jeeps and soon opened fire on the unarmed farmers and volunteers. The farmers withdrew to the safer area while ISM volunteers remained in the field and used loudspeakers to inform the Israeli soldiers that  they were firing at unarmed civilians working on their land who posed no threat.

After 10 minutes the two jeeps drove away and another jeep arrived with warning sirens on. The soldiers shouted in Arabic for everyone to leave. The ISM volunteers repeated the explanation that unarmed Palestinian farmers were working on their land and that they would leave for their homes when the work was finished.

Shortly after the jeep left and farmers were able to return and complete their work.

One of the farmers told volunteers that they choose to grow wheat to minimise the risk for themselves and their families of being shot. He said that wheat did not require much looking after and that they hoped to make the same perilous journey to the same field in May to harvest their crops.
Call-out:Tomorrow on Friday 22 January ‘10, three ISM volunteers will accompany farmers form the village of Faraheen to their land near the border with Israel where they have been frequently attacked by the Israeli soldiers in the past.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Peaceful march reaches Gaza buffer zone

Gaza – Ma’an – Dozens of Palestinian and foreign activists on Monday rallied in protest against Israel’s creation of a buffer zone between the Green Line and the northern and eastern borders of the Gaza Strip.

The march began from the destroyed Faculty of Agriculture north of Beit Hanoun and reached the buffer zone south of the Erez crossing.

The demonstrations began last Monday and are due to be held every week. Following the first protest, Saber Az-Za’aneen, coordinator of the local committee that organized the protests said that the committee hopes to see participation grow, in order to protect farmers, who are most affected by the decision, and to assist them in gaining entry to their agricultural land.

The Israeli army dropped leaflets across Gaza, informing its residents of the new areas that are no longer accessible to the population.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Witnesses: Israeli tanks shell Beit Hanoun

Gaza – Ma’an – Israeli tanks operating near the northern Gaza border near Beit Hanoun targeted civilian properties with heavy artillery fire, witnesses said late Friday night.

Eyewitnesses said tanks were spotted at the border, and noted a heavier than usual weaponry used by the forces. They said the fire hit civilian homes on the outskirts of the town, causing material damages but no injuries.

Families said the louder than usual tank fire terrified their children.

An Israeli military spokesman said he was unfamiliar with any military activity in the area overnight, but said he would look into the incident.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs' weekly Protection of Civilians Report, last week saw a steep escalation in violence in Gaza. It counted seven Palestinians in Gaza killed by Israeli airstrikes, and called the deaths a "serious escalation."

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Witnesses: Israel performs Gaza incursion

Gaza - Ma’an - Residents near the Sufa border, southern Gaza, reported that an Israeli military incursion was undertaken late Wednesday night.

Witnesses said Israeli forces entered close to the border, opened artillery fire while F16 warplanes were sighted above the skies.

The forces were then seen moving towards the eastern Gaza border, and fired at agricultural land in Jabalia in the north, they added.

An Israeli spokesman said there was no military activity in the area at the time of the reports.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Israeli incursion reported near Gaza cemetery

Gaza – Ma'an – Residents reported an Israeli military incursion into the eastern Gaza Strip on Tuesday afternoon.

A convoy of eight army vehicles and bulldozers reportedly entered the coastal enclave 200 meters northeast of Ash-Shaja'yeh.

Onlookers said forces began a sweep of the area and fired machine guns and artillery shells near the eastern cemetery. No injuries were immediately reported.

An Israeli military spokesman told Ma'an there was no unusual activity in the area, nor were shots fired.
IOF troops bulldoze land in Gaza, detain Jerusalemites for planting olives
[ 12/01/2010 - 06:46 PM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation forces (IOF) advanced east of Shujaia suburb in Gaza city afternoon Tuesday and bulldozed Palestinian plantations, local sources said.
They told the PIC reporter that the IOF troops escorted three military bulldozers, noting that the IOF soldiers fired three projectiles at cultivated lands east of Shujaia inflicting material damage.
Meanwhile, IOF soldiers detained three Jerusalemite farmers on Tuesday to the northwest of occupied Jerusalem while planting olive trees in their lands.
Local sources said that the soldiers arrested the farmers to terrorize their colleagues into refraining from tending to their lands in the same area.
The Israeli occupation authority had seized control of vast areas of the Beit Egza village in the area to build three settlements.
The village is only five kilometers away from the holy city and is inhabited by 2,000 citizens. It is surrounded by the racist, separation wall and no one is allowed to enter it except its inhabitants with IOF road barriers permanently set on its entrances.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Activists enter Gaza buffer zone

Gaza – Ma’an – Dozens of Palestinian and foreign activists began on Monday the first of weekly demonstrations against Israel’s creation of a buffer zone between the Green Line and the northern and eastern borders of the Gaza Strip.

Saber Az-Za’aneen, coordinator of the local committee that organized the protests, said they were joined by foreign participants in the intended "security zone," reaching approximately 100 meters of the separation wall in Beit Hanoun.

Az-Za’aneen told Ma’an that the committee hopes to see participation grow, in order to protect farmers, who are most affected by the decision, and to assist them in gaining entry to their agricultural land.

The Israeli army dropped leaflets across Gaza, informing its residents of the new areas that are no longer accessible to the population.

Friday, January 8, 2010

PCHR weekly report 30/12/2009-5/1/2010: 3 incursions, 4 airstrikes

extract from PCHR weekly report No. 01/2010 30 Dec 2009- 05 Jan. 2010

Israeli occupation forces conducted [...] 3 limited incursions into the Gaza Strip.

Friday, 01 January 2010

At approximately 20:00, Israeli warplanes bombarded an area near al-Je'el fuel station in the east of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip.  No damage or casualties were reported.

At approximately 23:35, Israeli occupation forces warplanes bombarded an olive farm in al-Qarara village, northeast of Khan Yunis.  A bombardment made a crater in the area, but no casualties were reported. 

Monday, 04 January 2010 

At approximately 00:00, Israeli occupation forces moved nearly 200 meters into the Abu Samra area in the north of Beit Lahiya in the northern Gaza Strip.  They leveled areas of Palestinian land which they had already razed previously. A heavy explosion and sporadic gunfire were heard in the area.  Israeli occupation forces withdrew from the area at approximately 16:30, and no casualties were reported. 

At approximately 17:05, an Israeli drone fired a missile at a number of activists of the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades (the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine), who were riding motorcycles in the east of Jabaliya in the northern Gaza Strip.  No casualties were reported. 

Tuesday, 05 January 2010 

At approximately 09:00, Israeli occupation forces moved nearly 200 meters in Khuza'a village, east of Khan Yunis.  They leveled areas of Palestinian land which they had previously razed.

At approximately 11:00, Israeli occupation forces moved nearly 150 meters into 'Abassan village, east of Khan Yunis.  They leveled areas of Palestinian land which they had previously razed.

At approximately 20:20, Israeli warplanes fired two missiles at a number of activists of the Salah al-Din Brigades (the armed wing of the Popular Resistance Committees) in al-Qarara village, northeast of Khan Yunis.  As a result, Jihad 'Abdul Rahim al-Sumairi, 22, was killed, and another 3 activists were wounded.  


IOF Opens Artillery Shells East of Jabalia


Al Mezan

At app. 12:30pm on Thursday 7 January 2010, the Israeli occupation forces launched three artillery shells at an open agricultural lands east Ezbet Abed-Rabu neighborhood, in the east of Jabalia town, in the North Gaza district. No causalities were reported. Two hours later, the IOF fired another three artillery shells that fell on Abu Safiya area east of Jabalia. No causalities were reported; however, terrified people left the area. IOF continuous attacks on this area have caused farmers to abandon their fields.

IOF Incursion in the East of Jabalia Town


Al Mezan

At around midnight on Thursday 7 January 2010, seven Israeli tanks and armored bulldozers moved about 300 meters into the east of Jabalia town near the Martyrs Cemetery, which is located near the border fence between Gaza and Israel. Bulldozers leveled agricultural land, and then moved northward. They took positions in the Abu Safiya area east of Jabalia and withdrew from it two hours later. No causalities were reported in this incursion.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Israel warns Gazans after mortar fire

Gaza – Ma’an – The Popular Resistance Committees claimed a third round of mortar launches Thursday afternoon, following two early morning barrages aimed at Israeli targets in and around the Gaza Strip, sources said.

The total number of confirmed launches stood at 11 by the mid-afternoon, with three more reported after 2pm, while Israeli media sources said 10 of the mortars landed in the southern Negev. One of the projectiles landed near the Kerem Shalom crossing, prompting its closure.

An Israeli military spokesman told Ma'an that officials confirmed that five-seven shells had landed, including two on the crossing itself. There were no reports of injuries or damage.

The three launches appear to be the largest attack on southern Israel since the end of Israel's Operation Cast Lead last year. Projectiles have been intermittently launched at Israeli targets in clusters of two to four, with no more than two barrages launched in a single day. The PRC said the first launch two launches included eight, and the second an additional four mortars.

After the first two launches, Israeli forces dropped hundreds of thousands of leaflets into areas in the north and east of the Gaza Strip (pictured above), warning Gazans to stay away from the border area.

Shortly after the third launch, Palestinians in Jabaliya reported hearing explosions in the north, though no evidence of Israeli artillery fire or airstrikes was found.

Resistance Fighter Killed

In the early morning, Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, also said that one of its members, identified as Usama Zuheir Al-Qassas, died during what the group described as a “Jihad mission” in Rafah in southern Gaza. The circumstances of the death were unclear.


The leaflets, which residents said were dropped in northern and southern Gaza, warned Palestinians not to approach within 300 meters of the Israeli border, and also warned against digging smuggling tunnels into Egypt.

One flier says that the “prohibited zone” includes border areas in Beit Lahiya, Beit Hanoun, and Jabaliya in the north, Khan Younis, Khuza’a, and Abasan in the center, and Rafah in the south.

A second leaflet warns Palestinians against using smuggling tunnels to circumvent the Israeli blockade of the territory.

“Terrorists, tunnel owners, and the smugglers of military equipment know for certain that the continuation of terrorist attacks, the smuggling of military equipment, and the digging of tunnels will be targeted by the IDF, but they continue to work in your residential areas and seek refuge among you," the flier read in Arabic.

“The digging tunnels under your houses and the smuggling of military equipment into Gaza constitutes a threat to your lives, the lives of your children and family, and your property,” it added.

“Do not stay idle and let the terrorists use you. They will not stand beside you when when harm is done to you and your property."

“Take responsibility for your future,” it concludes.

The leaflet also lists an email address and a phone number urging Palestinians to provide information about smugglers and tunnel operators.

A military spokesman confirmed that the leaflets were dropped from air force planes, warning that anyone who comes withing 300 meters of the border is "putting themselves at risk," and also warning against weapons smuggling. The spokesman said "the IDF will operate against anyone who harbors terrorists."

Gaza Crossings Closed

Following the first wave of mortar launches, Israel announced that the Kerem Shalom crossing point was closed when sources said a mortar shells fired from Gaza landed in the area. Palestinian officials said between 86 and 96 trucks had been scheduled deliver aid to Gaza.

Israel shut down its borders with Gaza after the elected Hamas government took full control of the territory in June 2007. The closure has reduced imports of vital goods to one-fifth of pre-blockade levels and prevented the Strip’s 1.5 million residents from leaving.

Tension in the south

On Thursday afternoon an Egyptian soldier was shot dead and two Palestinians wounded during clashes along the border. Demonstrators pelted Egyptian soldiers with stones after a protest rally decrying violence a British-led aid convoy.

The convoy led by British MP George Galloway, entered Gaza on Thursday night, a day after Egyptian riot police injured 50 of its members following a dispute over the group’s route into Gaza.

IOF Drops Warning Leaflets on Gaza Strip Districts

At app. 9:20am on Thursday 7 January 2010, Israeli airplanes dropped warning leaflets on different areas in Gaza Strip. The leaflets contained warnings to the population. One leaflet threatens people that the IOF would fire at them if they approach as close as 300 meters from border fence. The leaflet contains a rough map of the eastern and northern borders, with marks of what IOF declare as a security 'buffer zone'. This reflects an escalation in Israel's attempts to enforce this security zone inside the Gaza Strip. Al Mezan's documentation indicates that IOF opened fire frequently at Palestinians near the eastern and northern borders. IOF's attacks do not follow a specific pattern. While some attacks have occurred close to the border fence, many other attacks occurred when civilians were more than a kilometer from the the fence.
The second leaflet was directed to the population at large. It contained a statement that what it called 'terrorists, tunnel owners and weapon smugglers' knew that they are legitimate target for the Israeli army; however, continue to work from among civilians and endanger their lives, families and properties. This vague warning raises concerns that IOF would increase disproportionate attacks that fail to distinguish between civilians and combatants in Gaza in violation of international law.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

IOF troops advance in central Gaza Strip, bulldoze land

[ 06/01/2010 - 11:23 AM ]

GAZA, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation forces (IOF) mounting four tanks and escorting three bulldozers advanced into central Gaza Strip east of Deir Al-Balah city on Wednesday and damaged citizens' lands.
Local sources told the PIC that the IOF soldiers fired at civilian neighborhoods but no casualties were reported.
The limited incursion came only hours after an IOF drone fired a missile at a group of resistance fighters affiliated with the Salahuddin Brigades, the armed wing of the popular resistance committees, killing one and injuring four.
The armed wing vowed reprisal to the murder of one of its field commanders in the raid late last night.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

IOF Penetrates East of Khan Younis Town


At app. 9:20am on Tuesday 5 January 2009, several Israeli tanks and armored bulldozers moved about 100m into Khuza'a town, which is located on the separation fence between Gaza and Israel in the south of the Gaza Strip's district of Khan Younis. Bulldozers leveled agricultural land, starting from the Abu Reida gate, east of the town, and then moved towards the south near the separation fence. The force redeployed near the Sofa crossing.

Saber, patience

In Gaza

“I haven’t been on my land since we harvested the wheat last August. It’s too dangerous. There was an Israeli operation here yesterday…6 tanks and 4 bulldozers. I could see them from my rooftop in the village, but didn’t know if they’d destroyed my land.”
Abdul Nasser Abu Taima has 15 dunams of agricultural land roughly 400 m from the Green Line border dividing Gaza and Israel. Until a few years ago, he had a home on and lived off the land. Israeli bulldozers destroyed his house and razed his land.
“That was our home,” he says, picking up a piece of piping with a chunk of foundation still attached, chucking it onto the pile.

“I get so upset when I come to my land and see how beautiful it is, remember how well we lived off of it…and realize that now my children and I can’t live here.”
Although Abu Taima’s land is technically outside of the Israeli-imposed “buffer zone” – an area of 300m running along the Green Line border from south to north –he and the other farmers in the region are still subject to danger by their mere presence near the “buffer zone”.  Israeli authorities reserve the right to shoot at anyone within 300 metres of the fence, but in practice shoot far beyond 300 m, up to as much as nearly 2 km.
“Whenever we work on our land, we know the Israelis can shoot at us. They say it’s for security, because there is danger. But where’s the danger? What’s the problem? They know who we are, they can see us.”
His regret is amplified by the bitter observation that on the other side of the Green Line, Israeli tractors work the land, crops grow, and water exists in comparative abundance. Lines of un-razed trees provide a stark contrast to the now olive, nut and fruit tree-devoid land on the Palestinian side.
“We will still plant on our land. But we’ve got to wait for the heavy rains. All the water sources –the wells, the cisterns—were destroyed by Israeli bulldozers or shelling. Now we can only wait for rain.”
This year the rain is late in coming. Aside from a scant few days of showers, it has been dry, and the land remains parched and un-worked.
“We usually plant in November, or at least December. January is the latest we can plant our wheat. After that, there’s no point.”
The only thing growing now are the hardy cactus plants –saber, in Arabic. Abu Taima cuts a number of the prickly, bright pink-orange fruits and puts them in a bag. He stoops down and rips our handfuls of tall grass.

We walk, and he turns repeatedly to survey his land. “Mish hada haram? Mish haram?” he asks? Isn’t it shameful, outrageous, that he can’t work his land, that the land lies unused in a Strip that is in want of cheap, fresh wheat, for a family that is in want of a source of income and nutrition?
He stops, dumps the cactus fruits on the ground and, rolling them with the tall grass, begins cleaning them of their prickly needles.

The fruit is refreshing, mildly sweet.
“We used to give tea to the Israeli soldiers. Sure, there were always problems with the occupation… but still, we could live here on the land, farm here, without this kind of danger.”
Walking up the dirt lane, we pass a farmer tending his pea and bean crops. “He’s connected to a line from Khan Younis. That’s why he can farm his land,” Abu Taima explains.
The farmer sees us and greets us with a smile. “Wait a few minutes, I’ll bring you some peas.”
As he harvests, Abu Taima explains, “even here, this is maybe 600 metres from the fence. But even here they are shot at… from Israeli jeeps, from the guard towers, from the remote-controlled towers.”
The farmer returns laden with peas and beans, crisp, sweet, fresh.

“My children help me on the land. You know, the Israelis even shoot when they are with me. The Israelis see the children, but they still shoot.”
He also remembers a better relationship with the occupying soldiers.
“They’d come to my land and I’d give them watermelons, vegetables. Now there’s no interaction. They just shoot at us from far away.”
The nearest remote-controlled tower is open. The machine gun within is capped by a dome which ironically opens to a lotus-shape when the gun is ready to fire.
“I’ve got 18 people in my family. This actually isn’t our land. Our own land is right next to the fence, so we can’t go there any more. Now I rent land, pay $2500 a year to use it. During the Israeli war last year the Israelis destroyed my piping, my hothouses, so I had to replace that too.”
We leave, amble along on Abu Taima’s tractor past destroyed homes, cisterns, and largely-vacant land.
Abu Taima has saber: patience. He will return when the rains come.

Friday, January 1, 2010

IOF Bombards East Khan Younis Al Qarara Town


At app. 11:20pm on Friday 1 January 2010, the Israeli warplanes fired a missile at Al Qarara town, east of Khan Younis City in the south of the Gaza Strip. The missile fell in an empty field east of Al Ma'ari neighborhood. No causalities were reported.

IOF Raid on Ezbet Abed-Rabu East of Jabalia


At app. 9:20pm on Friday 1 January 2010, the Israeli occupation launched a missile from Israel at an open field near Al Motawasit Cement Factory in east of Ezbet Abed-Rabu neighborhood, east of Jabalia town in north Gaza district. The missile fell near a cow farm. No causalities were reported. This attack caused light damages to the field.