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Israel Denies Gazans Access to Their Own Land and Waters

By       Message Stephen Lendman     Permalink
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Israel Denies Gazans Access to Their Own Land and Waters - by Stephen Lendman

Throughout 43 years of occupation, Israel has waged war on Palestinians' human rights and civil liberties, a new UN report providing more evidence that keeps mounting exponentially, adding clarity about an out-of-control rogue state operating lawlessly.

On August 10, Haaretz writer Akiva Eldar cited it in an article headlined, "UN report: IDF barring Gazans' access to farms, fishing zones," saying:

"Over the last 10 years, the (IDF has) increasingly restricted Palestinian access to farmland on the Gazan side of the Israeli-Gaza border as well as (offshore waters) along the Gaza beach, a United Nations report (just) revealed."

Prepared jointly by the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the World Food Program (WFP), it's titled "Between the Fence and a Hard Place," explaining Israel's draconian/illegal restrictions on the pretext of "preventing attacks by Palestinian armed factions." In fact, only Israel poses a regional threat. A global one as well, what Palestinians and Israel's neighbors have known for decades.

Despite the Green Line, Oslo Accords, the so-called 2005 "disengagement," ongoing siege, the continued theft of West Bank and East Jerusalem land and more, Israel imposes punitive restrictions on Gazans, including under the 1994 Jericho Agreement. It established a 1,000 meter-wide "security perimeter" in the Territory, Palestinian police enforcing "special security measures" to prevent entry into Israel without permission.

A separate provision allowed a 20 nautical mile area off Gaza's coast for fishing, recreation, and other economic activities. Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), in theory, share joint enforcement authority, but, in fact, Israel has sole control.

Since September 2000, the start of the second Intifada, Israel took over more repressively than ever. Palestinians have been denied all rights in their own territory under vague and restrictive rules, including use of their own land and waters. As a result, Gazans have been irreparably harmed.

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Defining the Restricted Areas and Affected Populations

Israel's precise access parameters "are uncertain," including boundaries, conditions allowing or denying entry, and consequences if against Israeli restrictions. Morever, in the past decade, the IDF hardened measures in place.

Up to November 2008, a 300 meter prohibition was imposed. After Cast Lead, however, it expanded to a 1,000 - 1,500 meters, putting valuable farmland and residential areas off limits as follows:

-- a "no-go zone" up to 500 meters inside the Green Line. Those entering may be shot on sight. Israeli incursions regularly occur, destroying property found, including crops; and

-- a "high risk" zone up to 1,500 meters within the Line. "Opening fire at people accessing this area, as well as land leveling and property destruction, are common and widespread practices....carried out irregularly and unpredictably."

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Affected Gazans reported even worse harshness, affecting areas up to 3,000 meters inside the Line. Omitting these from UN calculations, the combined "no go/high risk" prohibitions cover about 62.6 square km or about 17% of Gaza (95% of which is arable land), off limits to Palestinians who own it. In total, they're denied access to 35% of the Territory's cultivable farmland, a major blow to its agriculture.

In addition, under the 2002 Bertini Commitment, Israel tightened coastal water restrictions from 20 nautical miles (NM) offshore to 12, but, in fact, even harsher limits were imposed. Some areas were entirely closed, others allowed open only part of the year. In mid-2006, restrictions applied beyond six NM, and after Cast Lead beyond three and in some areas only one. As a result, Gazans are gradually losing all rights to their coastal waters, those entering restricted areas risking life and loss of property.

"Overall, Palestinians are totally prevented from accessing 85 percent of the sea areas on which they are entitled to carry out maritime activities, including fishing, according to the 1994 Gaza-Jericho Agreement." About 113,000 people are affected (7.5% of Gaza's population), including those owning land and other property in restricted areas.

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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