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Israeli forces open fire on Palestinian farmers, level lands in southern Gaza

April 16, 2016 11:47 A.M. (Updated: April 16, 2016 6:10 P.M.)
GAZA (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces on Saturday opened fire on Palestinian farmers and leveled lands in the southern Gaza Strip, locals said.

Witnesses told Ma’an Israeli forces opened fire on agricultural lands near the the village of Khuzaa east of Khan Yunis.

In the eastern side of the Rafah district of the southern Gaza Strip, seven Israeli bulldozers leveled lands in the border area, continuing excavation works that have been reported by locals in the area almost daily for the past two weeks.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an Israeli forces fired warning shots into the air after "two suspects breached the buffer zone" and the suspects returned.

Israeli military forces routinely enter the Gaza Strip near the “buffer zone,” which lies on the border between the besieged enclave and Israel.

Israeli military activities, which have become almost daily occurrences, often interfere with Palestinian farmers whose land lies in the area. Approximately 35 percent of Palestinian agricultural land in Gaza is inaccessible without high personal risk, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported at least 30 incidents of Israeli military forces opening fire in the "buffer zone" in the first week of April alone, in two cases injuring Palestinians were were as far as 350 meters away from the border.

The Israeli army says the use of live fire is necessary to deter potential "security threats." However, the practice has destroyed much of both the agricultural and fishing sectors of the impoverished coastal enclave, which has been under Israeli blockade for nearly a decade.
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