Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Police in Gaza Bans the Demonstration by the Popular Campaign against the Israeli-imposed ‘Buffer Zone’


The police investigations unit banned activists of the 'Popular Campaign against the Buffer Zone' from organizing peaceful demonstration protesting the enforcement of the zone in Gaza. This demonstration has for months been a weekly event, taking place on Tuesdays in places near the separation fence between the Gaza Strip and Israel. It is organized to express solidarity with Palestinian farmers who work near the borders and can't reach their lands to work. It is also organized to protest Israel's violent enforcement of the security 'buffer zone' inside the Gaza Strip.
At approximately 6:30pm on Monday 21 February 2011, Saber Az-Za'aneen, Coordinator of the Local Initiative Committee, which leads the Campaign, received a telephone call from the head of the Police Investigations Unit in the town of Beit Hanoun, informing him that organizing the weekly demonstration was banned. He also told Mr. Az-Za'aneen that the Campaign needed obtain a permit from the office of the Minister of Interior if they wished to organize a demonstration.
In his affidavit to Al Mezan, Az-Za'aneen said that there was an agreement between the Campaign and the police to send a text message (SMS) to the head of the Investigations Unit to inform him about the time of the periodic demonstrations a day or two prior to each demonstration. In the evening of Sunday 20 February 2011, Az-Za'aneen sent the usual SMS. On the next day, the head of the Unit called Az-Za'aneen and told him that the Campaign had to obtain a written permit from the Minister of Interior’s office so that the demonstration be allowed to take place, just like other similar activities in the Gaza Strip.  He also informed Az-Za'neen that the Campaign had to send a copy from the permit to his Unit. Az-Za'aneen tried to explain that the demonstration was organized against the enforcement of the buffer zone by the Israeli forces, and had nothing to do with internal affairs; however, he told Az-Za'aneen that he had to comply with the rules and regulations.
It's worth mentioning that this particular demonstration was organized against the US, who had vetoed a resolution at the UN Security Council condemning Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories as illegal and an obstacle to peace. The demonstration was supposed to be held at 10:30am on Tuesday 22 February 2011 in fields north of Beit Hanoun town. International peace activists who usually participate in demonstrations against the buffer zone sought to obtain permission for this demonstration, but without success.