Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Israeli army fire on Gazan farmers and international observers

ISM Gaza
Gazan farmers whose land lies in Israeli defined buffer zone accompanied by international observers have been held down in their field by live gunfire. The Israeli army shot live ammunition for a quarter of an hour after finding the unarmed group fertilizing wheat crops. The international observers loudly informed the soldiers they were unarmed civilians, but the bullets only landed closer. Khuza’a is located 7 kilometers southeast of Khan Yunis. It is about a kilometer from the fence that serves as a border between Israel and Gaza.
According to the UN 30% of the arable land in Gaza is in the buffer zone. The farmers and ISM volunteers who came under fire today were on land that was recently lush with a variety of crops. Over the past few years, the number of crops grown has dwindled to due to the fatal threat posed by the Israeli army. Now, all the farmers can grow is wheat, because it requires less tending. This is affecting the physical health and economic well being of Gazans.
Farmers accompanied by International Solidarity Movement (ISM) volunteers, from Malta, England and Canada, ventured out to the fields surrounding Khuza’a early this morning. The field was peaceful when they arrived, but after fertilizing their wheat crops for twenty minutes, three Israeli army jeeps appeared and began shooting live rounds at the group.
Immediately after coming under fire, the group began shouting that they were unarmed civilians tending to their fields. The bullets were landing 100 meters away but moved progressively closer over the next few minutes until they were five meters away from the group – landing in the dirt and passing above their heads.
After around a quarter of an hour the group retreated ten meters and the shooting stopped. Then a plume of smoke exploded from one of the jeeps, probably from a tear gas canister that back-fired. After the smoke cleared the jeeps drove away, with the international observers clearly hearing Israeli soldiers shout, “We’ll shoot you!”
“These threats were in English. It was a clear warning to the internationals present that they were targeting us. It seems to be a warning for any internationals who dare to come and witness the daily tragedies of life in Palestine. They did not even pretend to be threatened by us, they loafed about in between their successions of rifle fire instead of taking cover,” one ISM volunteer said.
Updated on February 10, 2010

IOF Open Fire on Peaceful Demonstration in North Beit Hanoun


Al Mezan

At app. 11:30am on Monday 8 February 2010, the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) positioned at the north separation fence opened fire on protestors taking part in the the weekly demonstration against  the 'security buffer zone' near the fence. No casualties or  injuries were reported in this incident.  To express their solidarity with Palestinian farmers who live near the borders, volunteers from the ‘Local Initiative’ in Beit Hanoun decided to organize a weekly demonstration, with the support of internationals. Saber Az-Za'anin, the director of the 'Local Initiative'  said to Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights at app. 11am on Monday 8 February 2010, that a group of  forty Palestinians and four internationals moved towards the northern borders and stopped few meters away from the cement wall. As the demonstrators began to wave the Palestinian flags, the IOF stationed in one of the cement monitoring towers shouted and fired at the demonstrators. Demonstrators left the area immediately. The 'local initiative'  has organized similar demonstrations every Monday for over a month and they protest  at different areas in Beit Hanoun.