Friday, 13 September 2013

Israel exploits Egypt turmoil to increase attacks on Gaza farmers


Farming in the Gaza Strip’s “buffer zone” is hazardous under the best circumstances. Israeli troops routinely shoot live ammunition at Palestinian farmers in the free-fire area, which stretches hundreds of meters into the besieged territory from the barrier separating it and Israel, and invade their fields with tanks and bulldozers.

But Israel’s aggression against civilians in the area has escalated since the Egyptian army deposed elected president Muhammad Morsi and installed a new government on 3 July, according to Gaza’s farmers.

“After the coup in Egypt, the Israelis began shooting more heavily,” said Abu Jamal Abu Taima, a farmer in Khuzaa, a village in the Khan Younis area of southern Gaza.

Abu Jamal is the mukhtar, or elected leader, of the Abu Taima family, 3,500 refugees from Bir al-Saba — a town in present-day Israel called Beersheva — now scattered among the farmlands outside Khan Younis.

He and two dozen other farmers from the family spoke to The Electronic Intifada during and after a meeting they held in Khuzaa.

“Egypt was the guarantor of the last ceasefire agreement [in 2012],” he said. “Now the Israelis are free to do whatever they want.”

“Just a few months ago, there was no gunfire. Now there is. We aren’t even in season yet, but they have already started to shoot.” more

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