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Israeli forces open fire on farmers, shepherds in Gaza

Jan. 28, 2016 2:21 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 28, 2016 6:20 P.M.)
An Israeli soldier uses binoculars as they search for Palestinian militants in the northern area of the Israeli border with Gaza Strip, on July 21 2014. (AFP/Menahem Kahana, File)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces opened fire on Palestinian farmers and shepherds in the Gaza Strip near the borderline with Israel early Thursday, locals said.

Witnesses told Ma'an that Israeli forces deployed at military guard towers southeast of Gaza City opened fire on Palestinians farming near the buffer zone, forcing farmers to leave the area.

Separately, forces opened fire on shepherds in the town of al-Qarara northeast of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip.

Medical sources confirmed to Ma'an that no injuries were sustained during either incident.

An Israeli army spokesperson did not have immediate information but told Ma'an they were looking into the incident.

Israeli forces have opened fire on Palestinians a number of times this month, consistent with a pattern of frequent fire faced by Palestinians inside of or near a military-imposed “buffer zone” on both land and seaside borders of the besieged Gaza Strip.

The exact limits of the zone are unclear but enforced with live fire, putting the lives of Palestinian farmers and fishermen who work near the border at risk. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights reported 41 incidents of live fire on the borderlines during December 2015 alone.

The Israeli army often says in such circumstances that the use of live fire is necessary to deter potential "security threats."

Earlier this month a Palestinian was killed and three others were injured by Israeli artillery fire in the northern Gaza Strip after the Israeli army said the four planned to attack forces on the border.

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