Gaza farmers work under Israeli fire

PressTV –  Fri Mar 18, 2011 11:5PM
Safa Joudeh, Press TV, Gaza
In the northern and eastern parts of the Gaza Strip, residents are warned not to venture anywhere near the border area.

The Israeli defined buffer zone falls within Palestinian lands, and Israeli forces deployed on the outskirts do not hesitate to fire at a moving target that wanders about.

Closer to town, on Thursday morning residents woke up to a shower of paper falling from the sky, the regular occurrence of leaflets dropped from Israeli F16’s over towns and cities close to the border.

People gather round to read the message, but most know what to expect: Warnings from the Israeli military telling these agricultural communities to stay away from their land, which lies within 300 meters of the border, although farmers know that the Israeli military has shot at Gazans from a distance of two kilometers.

Prohibited access to farming land has had severe repercussions for the agricultural community in Gaza.

The UN estimates that some 30% of Gaza’s arable land lies within the no-go zone. And as such, many farmers here have no choice but to risk life and limb for the sake of their livelihoods. As a result they are often shot at by Israeli snipers, and quite a number of them are killed.

19 year old Salaama Abu Hashish was one of those farmers. Shot down while tending cattle close to the family home, his mother says that Salaama’s attachment to the land made him fearless of the threat to his life. Her eldest son she says, was providing for six younger siblings and an ailing father.

She points out where her son was shot on a hilly landscape a mile or two away. And Israeli forces did not stop at that. All but one of the entire flock of sheep he was herding were also shot.

Shootings have increased in the buffer zone in the past couple of years, mostly targeting farmers and gravel collectors. In 2010, around 47 people were killed and 114 injured in such incidents. And as reliance on local farming continues to increase with Israel’s siege on the territory, targeting the agriculture sector will be destructive for Gaza’s already struggling population.


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