30 March 2010
Palestinians in Gaza came out in large numbers for demonstrations commemorating Land Day, including one at Nahal Oz border crossing, east of Gaza City. In attendance were around 300 Palestinians and three ISM members. Unlike other demonstrations on Tuesday, no injuries were reported. However, several demonstrators reported nearly being hit with “warning shots” of live ammunition.
As Palestinian and international demonstrators approached the Nahal Oz border, they were met by Israeli military waiting on the other side of the crossing. Activists, including a large group of women, carried banners condemning the Occupation and the Siege on Gaza. The group paused about 300 meters away from the border, where speeches were made about the significance of Land Day. As the demonstration progressed, two jeeps, two tanks and two vehicles used for soldier transport arrived. Five soldiers in firing positions were visible outside the vehicles.
A group of over 100 young people advanced further to about 150 meters form the border where they stopped and chanted anti-Occupation and anti-Siege slogans. A smaller group of about 50 youth continued across the ‘buffer zone’ towards the border fence waving Palestinian flags.
Israeli forces responded by firing over 30 live bullets over a period of about half an hour. Even though these were “warning shots,” usually fired high in the air by the military, many bullets came uncomfortably close to the demonstrators. One journalist who stayed away from the front lines of the demonstration reported nearly being hit in the head with one of these live bullets.
The demonstration was one of six across Gaza organized by the Popular Campaign for the Security in the Buffer Zone, an umbrella organization that includes organizations representing farmers and Gaza residents living near the border, and also a number of political parties.