Thursday, March 18, 2010

Gaza residents continue testing Israeli no-go zone

In photos: Testing the Gaza `no-go zone` on Wednesday.

MaanImages/Hatem Omar

Palestinians protest near the Nahal Oz crossing east of Gaza City on March 17, 2010. Hundreds of Palestinians joined the demonstration Wednesday to protest tensions in East Jerusalem and a no-go zone Israel has declared along the Gaza Strip border.

Gaza – Ma'an – Israeli forces opened fire on Popular Committee Against the Buffer Zone march as the group continued to test the military's policing of the no-go area on Thursday, organizers said.

No injuries were reported, but one official said shots targeted civilians after warning shots were fired as the group reached the edge of the buffer zone, some 300 meters away from the Israeli border barrier.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said soldiers "identified rioters" in "what is considered a prohibited area" and said they were "hurling rocks" at the soldiers. "A single warning shot was fired in the air," she said.

Mahmoud Az-Zaq, the committee coordinator, said hundreds of protesters gathered in the Al-Farraheen neighborhood east of Khan Younis and walked directly toward the buffer area.

Southern Gaza coordinator Saber Az-Z’aneen, said shots targeted some of the protesters after a series of warning shots had been fired into the air.

Az-Z'aneen and Az-Zaq both confirmed the intention of the anti-buffer-zone committee to continue challenging the 300-500-meter no-go zone that de facto government officials say takes up 20% of the arable land in Gaza.