El Maghazi, Deir Al Balah, Gaza, Occupied Palestinian Territories, 24th April 2010, 12PM – At a peaceful nonviolent demonstration against the forceful cessation of farming within what Israel defines as a “buffer zone,” which was attended by 150 people, two Palestinians demonstrators and one International activist were shot. Israeli soldiers opened fire on the demonstrators from the border fence. Nidal Al Naji (18) was shot in the right thigh. Hind Al Akra (22) was shot in the stomach and is undergoing emergency surgery. Bianca Zimmit (28) from Malta was filming the demonstration when she was shot in her left thigh. The wounded are currently being treated in Al Aqsa Hospital.
Shortly after 11 a.m., women and men, including 6 ISM activists, marched from Al Maghazi towards the Israeli fence closing off the Gaza strip. After being met with live ammunition upon cresting a ridge, some demonstrators continued walking forward. This group included six women, two ISM activists and 20 men. The 20 male demonstrators reached the border fence. Zimmit was shot while filming the demonstration between the ridge and the fence, at a distance of roughly 80-100 meters. Hind Al Akra, also standing between the ridge and the fence, was shot in the stomach, and Niadal al Naji was shot in the leg near the fence. Demonstrators carried the wounded back across rough terrain to taxis for transport to Al-Aqsa Hospital.
The demonstrations are held in protest against the arbitrary decision by Israel to instate a 300 metre buffer zone as no-go area for Palestinians where “shoot to kill” policy is implemented. People have been shot regularly as far as 2 kilometres away from the border. 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 are present at many of these demonstrations.
Those venturing to the border regions to gather rubble and steel do so as a result of the siege on Gaza which, along with Israel’s 23 day winter war on Gaza, has decimated Gaza’s economy, including 95 percent of Gaza’s factories and businesses, according to the United Nations. Additionally, these recycled construction materials are vital in Gaza where the Israeli-led siege bans all but under 40 items from entering.
The siege prevents vitally needed construction materials from entering Gaza, where over 6,400 houses were destroyed or severely damaged in the Israeli war on Gaza, and nearly 53,000 sustained lesser damages. Hospitals and medical centres, schools, kindergartens and mosques are among the other buildings destroyed and damaged during the Israeli war on Gaza.