Friday, April 30, 2010

Rafah: 1 injured as no-go zone protests continue

Gaza – Ma'an – A Rafah man was injured during a demonstration against the Israeli-enforced no-go zone along the Gaza-Israel border on Thursday, as the rallies continue to end in bloodshed.

Ziad As-Sarafandi, coordinator of the Popular Committee Against the Buffer Zone in Rafah where the demonstration took place, said Israeli troops opened fire on the protesters. The live fire injured one man, he said.

The protests have continued every day for a week, as Gaza residents underline their demand for access to private and agricultural lands subsumed by what Israeli forces call a "combat zone," that was entirely closed off for Gaza civilians.

Individuals entering the area are "considered a threat to the citizens of Israel," an Israeli military spokesman said, and confirmed that soldiers let off warning shots at the group in an attempt to "drive them away from the border."

The spokesman said an investigation into the reported injury was being carried out by the Southern Command office.

On Wednesday, a similar protest east of Gaza City saw warning shots hit a 19-year-old Palestinian in the leg. The young man later died in hospital. Two days earlier four were injured including an international solidarity activist from Malta, when troops opened fire on demonstrators.

As-Sarafandi demanded Israel put a halt to the enforcement of the no-go zone, which eats up 20% of the agricultural land in Gaza, saying that if Israel wanted to enforce a buffer zone, they could do so on the Israeli side of the border.

Israel claimed to have unilaterally pulled out of Gaza in 2005, but retains control of to put pressure on Israel to stop the practices and allow the farmers to reach their lands.

The expanded buffer zone takes up a total of 61 square kilometers of land in the 360 square kilometer area.