ISM Gaza | Farming Under Fire
8 April 2009
This morning, the farmers from Al-Faraheen in the Gaza Strip persisted with their efforts to harvest the year’s crop of lentils. Volunteers with the International Solidarity Movement, and a camera crew from Press TV accompanied the farmers as they set out to work in a field about 300m from the border.
Before the farmers reached the field, an Israeli jeep stopped next to the border fence several hundred metres away. A number of shots were fired in the direction of the farmers before the jeep drove away.
After an hour as the farmers were about to finish their work, another jeep stopped at the border. Soldiers got out and took up firing positions. An ISM volunteer then spoke to them with a megaphone – informing the soldiers that they were all civilians, and requesting that the soldiers did not open fire.
The soldiers then fired several shots at the farming group. The proximity of some of these shots to the farmers was marked by an audible hiss and crack as they ripped through the air past their heads. At this point the farmers decided to leave.
Caoimhe Butterly from the ISM and the Free Gaza Movement said “Today’s action was further evidence of the systematic attacks that border farming communities face. Yet despite this, to sustain their families, farmers must put their lives at risk every day in order to cultivate their land. These acts of popular resistance demand our support. There needs to be continual support in the form of sustained campaigning and action on the issue.”
The Israeli military is attempting to enforce a no-go zone on the Palestinian side of the border. As part of this ongoing project, and in addition to shooting at the communities that live and work in the area, the Israeli military has destroyed large swathes of olive groves, orchards, and other arable land, and hundreds of homes.