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ISM Rafah: Tree planting in ‘buffer zone’

Fukharee, Gaza Strip, Palestine – On Monday, 15th September 2008, volunteers with ISM Rafah participated in an action with Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) in symbolically planting trees in the buffer zone in Fukharee area, north of Rafah.

The buffer zone is the agricultural area, established by Israeli Occupation Forces, about 300 meters wide along the entire eastern side of the Gaza Strip, where farmers are prohibited from farming their land. In some areas it is wider than 300 meters. These areas have become very dangerous for the Palestinians to live and farm. The buffer zone is another form of siege and denies the Palestinians right to livelihood, feeding their families, freedom of movement and to live in Peace. This is all happening during the so-called cease fire.

ISM volunteers met at UAWC office in Khan Younis before joining with a few hundred UAWC activists from Khan Younis. Two buses and four cars transported all the volunteers, the trees and the shovels to Fukharee, close to the Green Line. Upon arriving some people noticed the telltale dust of an Israeli tank and then it appeared from behind some trees off in the distance.

All the volunteers got off the buses and started walking toward the dedicated field holding 3 banners and chanting “Free, Free Palestine” among others in Arabic. Various news agencies and independent video cameras were recording the event.

In the designated field the trees were put on the ground and a few volunteers from ISM and UAWC started digging holes to plant olive, guava and citrus trees. About 100 hundred trees were planted by the end of the action. Although the ISM volunteers were there to reclaim the land and demand that Israel stop destroying the crops in the area, the action was a symbolic one. UAWC plans to continue doing various similar actions throughout the Gaza Strip in and near the buffer zones.