Friday, May 14, 2010

Israeli forces penetrate Rafah following explosion

Gaza – Ma'an - An Israeli military vehicle was hit when an explosive charge detonated beneath it during a patrol of the Gaza buffer area north of Rafah on Friday morning.

No injuries were documented by Israeli forces, and no armed faction has claimed the reported attack.

Following the report, however, Palestinians in Gaza said eight Israeli tanks and four military bulldozers penetrated nearly 500 meters in to Gaza, beyond the unilaterally declared no-go zone, and destroyed lands amid gunfire.

An Israeli military spokesman said he would look into the report, and noted "constant attempts to harm Israeli soldiers" in the no-go area.

The targeted vehicle was inside the Gaza Strip at the time of the reported explosion, on a tour of a no-go area that military officials have designated a "combat zone."

The area, restricted to farmers and civilians, comprises some 20% of the arable lands in the Gaza Strip, whose agricultural sector was already in poor shape following the Israeli-imposed ban on fertilizers, seeds and agricultural equipment. The fishing industry was similarly hit when Israeli naval ships began enforcing a 3 nautical mile fishing limit off the Gaza coast, forcing the Mediterranean community to import fish from Egypt via the smuggling tunnels for the first time in its history.

Protesters in Gaza have gathered every week, sometimes more often, demanding Israeli forces relinquish control of the no-go zone, which is inside the Gaza border, from which Israel claims to have withdrawn in 2005.