International Solidarity Movement
28 May 2010Yesterday, Thursday the 27 May ’10, three people were wounded in the Zeytoun neighborhood of Gaza City which was bombed by the Israeli Apache helicopters and six farmers from the same area were wounded by the tank artillery fire while farming near the border.
This morning (Friday 28th), two ISM activists visited two of the wounded farmers in the Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City.
Baraka Mihammad AL Mugrabi, age 53 and Musa Ashad Badawi, age 28 are neighbors, and went to farm yesterday at 6 a.m. Because they have small plots of land they were quite near each other and a part of a larger group of about 30 people.
Baraka has 5 dunums of land and Musa 12, and they grow olives, apricots and other fruits as well as vegetables and some wheat.
Both of them are farmers with no other source of income and large numbers of people depend on their farming income. In Musa’s case, this includes over 20 members of his family including his parents and younger siblings.
Baraka supports a large family of 10 children, his parents and several older relatives.
Soon after they started farming, earth-to earth missiles fired at them from 10 Israeli tanks. “There were helicopters, drones, many army jeeps, 10 tanks and 10 bulldozers which later entered our land to level the mounds their artillery shells created”, said Baraka. “The firing was both heavy and sudden. About 25 artillery shells hit the area where we were and without any prior warning”.
According to Musa, farmers are shot at almost daily but this was the first time they fired from the tanks.
Artillery shrapnel hit Baraka’s lower arm, shattering the bone in several places and caused nerve damage. He also suffered a spinal injury in a fall following the wounding.
Both Baraka and Musa were in lots of pain following surgeries they had undergone yesterday and they were told that they would both have to spend at least six weeks in the hospital to ensure recovery.
Musa had no feeling in his leg and Baraka was worried that the nerve damage would leave him permanently without use of his arm.
Both will have to return to the place where they suffered shock and so much pain.
They have no choice; they are farmers and they have no other options. What preoccupies both of them already is the time they will be unable to work because of their injuries, and they are unsure how their families will manage financially.
Musa was told that his recovery will take a whole year and Baraka’ at least six months.
Gaza Buffer Zone Background
While unemployment levels hover near 42% in Gaza and 60% of its 1.5 million residents lack food security,¹ Israel’s illegal buffer zone greatly exacerbates the humanitarian crisis. 30% of Gaza’s arable farmland, and some of its most fertile, lies within the buffer zone.² Farmers who attempt to work in the zone face live fire and crop destruction. The number of crops grown in the zone has consequently been reduced from a diverse range to wheat and other less labor-intensive harvests, which further negatively impacts the nutrition and economic condition of Gazans. An additional 17% of farmland was destroyed in Israel’s war of aggression,³ making 47% (nearly half) of Gaza’s farmland now marginally usable.
The buffer zone has also reduced Gaza’s fishing zones to 1-3 miles offshore. In the first four months of 2010, 19 naval attacks led to two shootings and three arrests, as well as numerous confiscations of fishing equipment. The narrow fishing zone, in which over 3,600 fishermen work daily, is gravely over-fished.²
Israel’s decision to instate a 300-meter buffer zone is in violation of Oslo Accords, and people are routinely shot as far as two kilometers from the border. Israeli attacks in the buffer zone injured 50 persons and killed 14 between January and April 2010. In the past twelve months, at least 220 Israeli attacks have been carried out, with 116 coming since the beginning of 2010 (as of April 30th).²