The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) increased its attacks on Palestinian civilians who collect the rubble of the destroyed buildings and roads near the border fence between Gaza and Israel. Since the start of 2010, 27 persons have been injured; including ten children. Eight of the 27 were injured in July alone. The number of persons injured in 2010 has tripled since 2009 during which nine persons were injured.
According to Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights’ documentation, the IOF, which is positioned at the border fence, regularly opens fire on Palestinian civilians who collect rubble. Some of the attacks have occurred close to the border fence, while many other attacks occurred when civilians were as far as 800 meters from it. On many occasions, the IOF also opened fire on these civilians more than once during the same day. The IOF attacks have become a daily reality for these civilians.
Dozens of Palestinian civilians, including children, collect and remove rubble and gravel from structures located along the border fence inside what the IOF has declared as a “security buffer zone”. In effect, this zone extends up to one kilometer inside the Gaza Strip. The IOF claims it goes as deep as 300 meters. The collected rubble is sold to the brick factories which recycle it into bricks, or people to use for construction. Since last year’s offensive on Gaza, this has been the only source of construction materials needed for making bricks and concrete for construction that is available in the Gaza Strip, which suffers from acute shortage of materials due to the Israeli siege.
Al Mezan has documented the following violations against Palestinians who were collecting the rubble during the five day period from 10 to 15 July:
- At approximately 6:30am on Saturday 10 July 2010, the IOF opened fire at civilians collecting rubble as they were a few meters from the border fence. As a result, ‘Arafat Abdel Karem Sha’ban, 16, was injured in his left leg. According to medical sources at Kamal Odwan Hospital his injuries were moderate. Sha’ban was among a group of civilians collecting rubble from destroyed structures close to the border fence north of the Um An-Nasser village in North Gaza district.
- At approximately 6:30am on Saturday 10 July 2010, the IOF opened fire at Palestinian civilians who were 200 meters from the border fence near the evacuated settlement Eli Sinai, northwest of Beit Lahyia town in the North Gaza district. As a result, Nu'man Hasan As-Sous, 14, was injured in his right leg and Maher Fayiz Ghabin, 20, was injured in his right thigh. Medical sources at Kamal Odwan Hospital reported that their injuries were moderate.
- At approximately 9:20am on Monday 12 July 2010, the IOF opened fire at Palestinian civilians who were about 450 meters from the border fence in the vicinity of Erez Crossing. As a result, Mohammed Othman Al Kafarneh, 23, was shot in his left leg. His injuries were described as moderate.
- At approximately 7:30am on Wednesday 14 July 2010, the IOF opened fire at Palestinian civilians who were about 500 meters from the border fence in the vicinity of Erez Crossing. As a result, Ihmeed Ahmed ‘Ubaid, 13, was injured moderately in the shoulder.
- At approximately 8am on Thursday 15 July 2010, the IOF opened fire at Palestinian civilians who were 200 meters from the border fence near the evacuated settlement Eli Sinai, northwest of Beit Lahyia town in the North Gaza district. As a result, Mahdi Fayiz Mqatt, 19, was injured in the legs. Medical sources at Kamal Odwn Hospital described his injures as moderate.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights strongly condemns the Israeli continuous and escalated attacks on Palestinian civilians near the border fence. These attacks come in the context of IOF’s accelerated attempts to enforce the security buffer zone inside the Gaza Strip. The IOF previously had killed Ahmed Sulaiman Salem Deeb, 19, when he was participating in a peaceful demonstration against this zone. Another seven solidarity activists were also injured; including the peace activist, Bianca Zimmit from Malta.
Al Mezan Center for Human Rights calls on the international community to put pressure on Israel to stop its violations of human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL) in Gaza and the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).
Al Mezan strongly deplores the continuous Israeli attacks against Palestinians even in the absence of any hostilities and when civilians pose no threat to the IOF. The IOF's attacks violate Israel’s legal obligations under IHL, particularly the principles of distinction and proportionality.
Al Mezan also calls on the international community to act against enforcing the security buffer zone inside the Gaza Strip. Like the separation Wall in the West bank, enforcing this zone means slicing large parts of the Palestinian land and forcibly displacing the farmers and other civilians who live and own land in that area. The international community should ensure respect for international law and take effective actions to protect civilians in the oPt.