ISRAELI TROOPS OPEN FIRE AT GAZA FARMERS FOR THE 3RD TIME IN 4 DAYS

Palestinian farmer Ahmed Al-Najar works in his field in Khuzaa near the borderbetween Israel and the southern Gaza Strip, on Sept. 2, 2014. (AFP/Said Khatib).
Palestinian farmer Ahmed Al-Najar works in his field in Khuzaa near the borderbetween Israel and the southern Gaza Strip, on Sept. 2, 2014. (AFP/Said Khatib).

Gaza City, 24 Jumadil Awwal 1436/15 Maret 2015 (MINA) – Israeli troops stationed along the border with the Gaza Strip on Sunday morning opened fire toward Palestinian farmers working on their lands on the eastern outskirts of Khan Younis, said witnesses.

The soldiers fired gunshots and smoke bombs at agricultural lands and into residential neighborhoods from military watchtowers east of the village of Khuzaa, forcing farmers to leave their fields, Ma’an News Agency quoted by Mi’raj Islamic¬† News Agency (MINA) as reporting.

No casualties were reported as a result of the attack, which is the third such incident in the area since Thursday.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said she was “unfamiliar” with the incident.

Khuzaa is a small agricultural town that was severely damaged by Israel during the summer assault, when more than half of the village’s homes were destroyed and dozens of civilians reportedly killed in three days of intense shelling.

Israeli forces have repeatedly opened fire toward Palestinian civilians near the border in the five months since the signing of a ceasefire agreement that ended a more than 50-day assault by Israel on Gaza that left around 2,200 dead and 11,000 injured.

The attacks come despite Israeli promises at the end of the ceasefire that restrictions on Palestinian access to the border region would be lessened.

The “security buffer zone” before the Israeli assault extended between 500 meters and 1,500 meters into the Strip, effectively turning local farms into no-go zones.

According to UNOCHA, 17 percent of Gaza’s total land area and 35 percent of its agricultural land were within the buffer zone as of 2010, directly affecting the lives and livelihoods of more than 100,000 Gazans.

During the war, the buffer zone covered nearly half of the entire Gaza Strip, but immediately following the cessation of hostilities was reduced to former levels, with promises that it would be pulled back further.

The border restrictions are part of Israel’s broader siege on the Gaza Strip in place for the last eight years, which largely prohibits both imports and exports and has led to a severe collapse in the tiny coastal enclave’s economy.(T/P008/P3)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)