Monday, May 12, 2014

Israeli soldiers shoot Palestinian near border in northern Gaza

Published yesterday (updated) 12/05/2014 11:22
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli troops shot and injured a Palestinian man in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday, locals and an army spokeswoman said.

The man was collecting small stones used to make concrete on the outskirts of Beit Hanoun near Erez crossing when Israeli forces opened fire at him, locals said.

He was taken to Kamal Udwan Hospital in Beit Lahiya for treatment.

Many Gazans collect pebbles in order to make concrete as the Israeli economic blockade has prevented the import of civilian construction material, including concrete, since 2007.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said there were "a few suspects in the area" near Erez crossing who were "tampering with the ground."

The Palestinians were in a "buffer zone" area forbidden to Palestinians, she said.

After using "riot dispersal means" to no avail, Israeli soldiers fired at the Palestinians' lower extremities, "identifying a hit."

Asked if the Palestinians were threatening the soldiers in any way, the spokeswoman said: "The threat is trying to enter Israel."

She added that there was also the concern of explosive devices being planted in the area.

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 Israeli military has deemed off-limits to Palestinians.

The "security buffer zone" extends between 500 meters and 1500 meters into the Strip, effectively turning local farms into no-go zones.

According to UNOCHA, 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.

The Gaza Strip has been under a severe economic blockade imposed by the State of Israel since 2006.

The blockade has severely limited the imports and exports of the Gaza Strip and has led to frequent humanitarian crises and hardship for Gazans.