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Gaza's no-go zone, 3 years on

July 5, 2011 6:14 P.M. (Updated: July 7, 2011 10:56 A.M.)
By: Kharda Hamdan
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) – Hundreds of hectares stretched along Israel's barrier with the Gaza Strip are deserted because of a no-go zone, what solidarity activists call the “buffer zone”.

Only a small number of locals and internationals dare to tread simply because at any moment an Israeli patrol could show and open fire, seemingly depending on the soldiers’ mood.

Many people have been killed since Israel announced this no-go zone three years ago. Some of the victims were children whose only crime was to attempt to taste the season’s first lemons or oranges.

On Tuesday, a small number of international activists and locals from the popular campaign against the no-go zone approached the area courageously and cautiously.

They progressed quickly and erected a Palestinian flag only 200 meters from the fence and withdrew as quick as lighting because they breached an Israeli rule which basically says nobody is authorized to overstep a 300-meter distance from the fence. In fact, everybody seen within that range will be shot at.

To be more precise, the no-go zone started with 300 meters, but very swiftly, the range extended to 800 meters, and in some cases people were shot dead while they were a kilometer away.

Israel's army says it consider the area a combat zone.

It says its soldiers fire warning shots before targeting those who enter the area.

Coordinator of the local campaign Sabir Zaanin told Ma’an that the founders of that campaign would not give up until their mission to change the status quo is completed.

Khalil Nasr, who is in charge of volunteers, was busy watching in all directions to try and protect the motivated young people zealous to approach their land and challenge Israel's decisions.

He highlighted that the no-go zone took “20 percent of the Gaza Strip’s lands.”

The most veteran of international solidarity activists, 68-year-old Nils from Sweden, says “Israel has been behaving as it wishes, and this is violating international law.

"The Palestinians are entitled to independence and to make use of their lands.”

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