Israeli Buffer Zone State Terror
by Stephen Lendman
State terror is official Israeli policy. It’s imposed numerous ways to enforce harshness too extreme to bear. The strategy hopes many Palestinians will give up and leave.
Israel repeatedly gets it wrong. After decades of extreme oppression, Palestinians are committed to resist until free, though doing it extracts a huge toll.
Under protracted siege, Gazans suffer most of all, including by Israel’s imposed Buffer Zone. It’s a no-go “access-restricted” free-fire area, extending from Israel’s border fence well into Gaza’s most arable land.
Palestinians entering it risk being shot, killed, or injured, including children. Moreover, IDF armored columns enter often to raze land and bulldoze homes and other structures.
In May 2009, Israel dropped leaflets warning Gazans to keep out of areas within 300 meters of the border fence or risk being shot. In fact, Israeli snipers shoot them up to two kilometers inside. Moreover, Palestinian crops and structures have been destroyed well beyond the 300 meter limit.
As part of the 1994 Gaza-Jericho Agreement and 1995 Oslo II, consensus was reached on a delimiting Gaza line. Specific language said “(t)here will be a security perimeter along the Delimiting Line inside the Gaza Strip.”
The deal called for Palestinian police to patrol it. Structures within 100 meters of the border would remain. New construction was allowed within agreed on limitations.
After the 2000 second Intifada began, Israel enforced a 150 meter no-go zone. It marked the onset of Buffer Zone state terror. Homes and other structures were demolished. Fundamental international humanitarian and human rights laws were violated.
After Israel’s summer 2005 disengagement, Gazans were again warned against encroaching within 150 meters of Israel’s border. Even then, 500 meters were enforced. More demolitions occurred.
In December 2005, Israel declared areas in northern Gaza off-limits, including evacuated settlements. Thousands of Palestinians were affected. The Buffer Zone in this area extended 1.5 kilometers from Israel’s border.
During Cast Lead, clearing the entire Buffer Zone was finalized. Palestinians were again warned to keep out. Though officially 300 meters, anyone up to two kilometers can be shot on sight. Permanent displacement affected at least 10,000 Gazans.
In addition, demolitions and agricultural land razing happen regularly. Israeli soldiers monitor the area 24 hours a day. Up to 70% of households living near the Buffer Zone have been displaced at least once since 2000. Most lost homes. Others fled for safety. Half or more of them lost livelihoods.
Defining the Buffer Zone
It covers 17% of Gaza’s total land area and 35% of its arable land. Around 7.5% of Gaza’s population (113,000 people) are affected. Since Cast Lead’s January 2009 end, 51 Palestinians were shot and killed, including 11 children. Another 237 were injured, including 49 children.
Since 2005, Israel destroyed 305 water wells, 197 chicken farms, 377 sheep farms, three mosques, three schools, and six factories. According to UN estimates through August 2010, nearly 1,000 homes were totally destroyed, another 371 partly so.
Examples of Israeli Terror Attacks
Hanan Hasan Salman Al-Hamidi’s home was about 350 meters from Israel’s border. It housed four families. On November 4, 2008, gunfire erupted. Loudspeakers ordered everyone outside. He was hit by shrapnel.
His sister-in-law Hanin was wounded, Firing continued. Tanks approached. Electricity was cut off. The house began shaking. Soldiers were attacking in force. A large bulldozer hit the house, demolishing it entirely. Nothing inside was saved.
Women were handcuffed, blindfolded and taken to the Israeli border side for interrogation. Israelis demanded confessions about an alleged tunnel beneath their home. Finally they were released, but lost everything, including their home.
Hatem Eid Sulaiman Abu Sharab’s home was about 650 meters from Israel’s border. On February 26, 2011, Israel ordered it and surrounding houses evacuated. Explosions shook the ground. Their homes were completely destroyed.
Nothing was left but scattered stones and rubble. “I don’t know why Israeli forces attacked my home,” he said. He lived there many years in peace. He also lost everything, and now lives in a tin-roofed room on land his cousin owns.
Abu Is’ayid lived about 300 meters from Israel’s border. On July 13, 2010, the IDF shelled his home. His wife Naser was killed. Three other family members were injured.
On April 28, 2011, another attack occurred. Four family members were wounded. Ambulances trying to reach them were delayed. IDF permission to proceed was needed. They’re prohibited from entering within 1,000 meters of Israel’s border without prior coordination between Israeli authorities and the ICRC.
The top floor of the family house was destroyed, its ground floor damaged. Hebrew radio said attacking their home was a mistake. No known restitution was made.
Israel’s Lawless Control
Israel has total control over Gaza. Buffer Zone and other state terror enforce it. Residents live under constant fear of attacks. Israel makes no distinction between civilians and alleged combatants. Everything in Gaza (within and outside the Buffer Zone) is vulnerable, including schools, hospitals, mosques, and residential homes.
International law is systematically violated. Crimes of war and against humanity are committed with impunity. Victims have no legal recourse for just reparations and compensation.
Israel reigns terror on Gazans ruthlessly. From day to day, around 1.7 million people don’t know if they’ll live or die, or whether giant bulldozers will demolish what once was home, giving them scant time to vacate or be buried under rubble.
These type abuses are intolerable. World leaders permit them by not intervening. Palestinians are on their own to free themselves from Israel’s scourge. They’re committed and won’t ever stop trying.
A Final Comment
On February 16, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) published a report headlined, “Occupied Lives: Sniper Fire in the ‘Buffer Zone,’ ” saying:
Munther Rashad Saleh al-Nakhala raises canaries and goldfinches. They’re very precious to him, he says. Four days a week, he hunts for them in areas around Gaza City. Doing so risks his life.
On January 31, 2012, Israeli soldiers shot him. He was about 450 meters from Israel’s border. With his net extended on the ground, he spotted five Israeli soldiers along Israel’s border fence side.
“I know that the occupation soldiers approach the fence by foot when they attempt to shoot at someone,” he said. “Immediately, I started collecting my net and cage to leave the place. As I was taking the cage, without notice, the soldiers fired three times at me with live ammunition.”
“One of the bullets hit my left leg.” Luckily, he wasn’t seriously hurt, and was able to get away alive. But he needed hospitalization for two days.
“We are hunting in our lands, (and) they know me and they knew that I was unarmed as I have been hunting in that area for years. They call us terrorists when they are the ones who terrorize us.”
He’s one of many victims. Last year alone, 24 Palestinians were killed, including five children. Another 203 were injured, including nine children. All incidents occurred in Israel’s Buffer Zone.
Live fire enforces it. It’s illegal under international law. No military necessity exists. Nor may Israel confiscate or destroy Palestinian property.
Nonetheless, Palestinians face these and other dangers daily. They’re also denied access to their own land in or around Israel’s Buffer Zone. Those entering risk death or injury. Al-Nakhala’s lucky to be alive. Others aren’t so fortunate.
Gazans remain out of sight and mind. Their fate’s in their own hands. Their liberating struggling continues to end what no one ever should tolerate, including world leaders able to stop it.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at email@example.com.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.