Gaza – Ma’an – Residents of the Gaza Strip’s borders live in a state of fear, particularly those who own agricultural lands near the eastern borders and cannot access them from fear of being shot by Israeli forces present in the area.
Residents further assert that they receive phone calls from Israeli soldiers demanding information on captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, in return for money.
Ahmad Hillis, a resident of the eastern region of Gaza near the border, explained the suffering they endure in the area that residents term a “shooting field,” articulating that “many people possess agricultural lands in the eastern area and cannot reach them because they are frightened of being shot by the Israeli soldiers who engage in weekly inspection and shooting operations, mess up and raze lands.”
As Hillis noted that 18 houses were destroyed in the area during the war, fellow resident Muhammad Salim added that people living in the vicinity return home early fearing that Israeli reconnaissance planes might target them at night.
According to United Nations and numerous Palestinian residents, the Israeli military maintains an exclusion zone of about 300 meters in width along the border. Anyone venturing into the zone risks being shot with live ammunition. Some residents say however that they have seen the military shoot at farmers up to 700 meters from the borderline.
As this report was written, farmers living near the border with Israel east of the city of Jabaliya said that three Israeli shells exploded in a field, causing a state of panic but no injuries.
Additionally, other residents expressed their exasperation at numerous phone calls from callers identifying themselves as members of the armed forces asking them for details on Shalit in exchange for 10 million dollars, they say, and to provide information concerning Palestinian armed forces, maintaining that such propositions are always rejected.