Israeli Army Targets Gaza Farmers with Gunfire

KHAN YOUNES, March 15, 2015 (WAFA) – Israeli army Sunday opened gunfire towards a group of farmers, while they were in their borderline farmlands east of Khan Younes, according to WAFA correspondent.

He said Israeli soldiers, stationed at borderline watchtowers, opened a barrage of gunfire towards the farmers and neighboring houses, causing damage to some of them. There were no reports of casualties, nonetheless.

Israeli army and navy open fire on farmers and fishermen almost on a daily basis. A few days ago, a fisherman was killed and another was injured after Israeli naval boats targeted them with gunfire, despite sailing within the six-nautical-mile zone offshore the Gaza Strip.

Since 2005, Israel unilaterally imposed a 300-meter-wide buffer zone into the border with Gaza, sharply affecting the livelihood of tens of thousands of Gaza farmers, who rely heavily on agriculture to provide for their families.

As of 2010, UN-OCHA estimated that 35 percent of Gaza’s agricultural land is located in restricted-access areas, affecting the lives and livelihoods of approximately 113,000 people.

Farmers in farmlands on the borders say their situation has only worsened since the last war ended in 2014, pointing to the Israeli military’s frequent incursions into their lands and its practice of firing live ammunition at farmers who enter the sizable ‘buffer zone’ between Gaza and Israel.

Israel and the Palestinian factions signed a ceasefire deal on August 26, ending the 2014 summer Israeli onslaught on Gaza, which claimed the lives of over 2,200 Gaza refugees, overwhelmingly civilians.

Under the terms of the ceasefire, Israel was to immediately ease the blockade imposed on the Strip and expand the fishing zone off Gaza’s coast, allowing fishermen to sail as far as six nautical miles from shore.

Since 2007, Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza after Hamas won the parliamentary elections and subsequently took over the Gaza Strip from President Mahmoud Abbas’ loyal security services.