Monday, March 31, 2014

Israeli forces fire at activists planting trees in southern Gaza

Published Monday 31/03/2014 (updated) 31/03/2014 21:16
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli soldiers opened fire at Palestinian activists planting trees in the southern Gaza Strip on Monday, witnesses said.

Activists told Ma'an that Israeli soldiers stationed in watchtowers near the border town of Khuzaa shot at the activists, who were planting olive trees to mark Land Day east of Khan Younis.

Gaza Ministry of Health spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra said there were no injuries.

The activity was organized by the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

DFLP official Talal Abu Tharifa told Ma'an: "Farmers planted olive trees in their own fields to tell the Israeli occupation that they must leave."

An Israeli military spokeswoman told Ma'an that the Palestinians in the area were "tampering with the security fence."

"Soldiers opened fire into the air" and the Palestinians dispersed, she said.

Land Day marks the death of six Palestinian citizens of Israel, who took part in a general strike in protest of an Israeli decision to confiscate privately owned Palestinian lands on March 30, 1976.

Israeli forces frequently shoot at farmers and other civilians inside the Gaza Strip if they approach large swathes of land near the border that the military has deemed off-limits to Palestinians.

According to OCHA, 17 percent of Gaza's total land area and 35 percent of its agricultural land were within the buffer zone as of 2010, directly affecting the lives and livelihoods of more than 100,000 Gazans.