Gazan farmers whose land lies in Israeli defined buffer zone accompanied by international observers have been held down in their field by live gunfire. The Israeli army shot live ammunition for a quarter of an hour after finding the unarmed group fertilizing wheat crops. The international observers loudly informed the soldiers they were unarmed civilians, but the bullets only landed closer. Khuza’a is located 7 kilometers southeast of Khan Yunis. It is about a kilometer from the fence that serves as a border between Israel and Gaza.
According to the UN 30% of the arable land in Gaza is in the buffer zone. The farmers and ISM volunteers who came under fire today were on land that was recently lush with a variety of crops. Over the past few years, the number of crops grown has dwindled to due to the fatal threat posed by the Israeli army. Now, all the farmers can grow is wheat, because it requires less tending. This is affecting the physical health and economic well being of Gazans.
Farmers accompanied by International Solidarity Movement (ISM) volunteers, from Malta, England and Canada, ventured out to the fields surrounding Khuza’a early this morning. The field was peaceful when they arrived, but after fertilizing their wheat crops for twenty minutes, three Israeli army jeeps appeared and began shooting live rounds at the group.
Immediately after coming under fire, the group began shouting that they were unarmed civilians tending to their fields. The bullets were landing 100 meters away but moved progressively closer over the next few minutes until they were five meters away from the group – landing in the dirt and passing above their heads.
After around a quarter of an hour the group retreated ten meters and the shooting stopped. Then a plume of smoke exploded from one of the jeeps, probably from a tear gas canister that back-fired. After the smoke cleared the jeeps drove away, with the international observers clearly hearing Israeli soldiers shout, “We’ll shoot you!”
“These threats were in English. It was a clear warning to the internationals present that they were targeting us. It seems to be a warning for any internationals who dare to come and witness the daily tragedies of life in Palestine. They did not even pretend to be threatened by us, they loafed about in between their successions of rifle fire instead of taking cover,” one ISM volunteer said.