Saturday, April 10, 2021

Israel‘s continuous violation of the ceasefire with Gaza

By Felix Black - February 16, 2013
Section: [Main News]
Tags: [Gaza] [ceasefire] [fishermen] [Israeli violations of ceasefire] [civilian casualties ]

This photo, showing the lens of a sniper rifle aimed at the head of a (probably Palestinian) teenager, was originally posted on the personal Instagram account of Mor Ostrovski, a 20-year old Israeli soldier.

It has been over two months since Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire on November 21, 2012.

Yet in those two months, reports indicate 92 violations of the ceasefire by Israel. Considering it has only been 88 days since the agreement, Israel violates the ceasefire on average at least once a day. 

Occupied Palestine, an online blog for human rights abuses in Palestine, documents each contravention of the internationally-recognized agreement from sources inside Gaza. They have reported on 130 Palestinian civilians being fired at by the Israeli military, 74 injuries and four deaths. 

None of the four Gazans killed posed any threat to the well-armed, highly trained and barricaded Israeli soldiers that shot them. The first, Mohammed Qdeih, was shot from behind at a range of 250 meters as he tried to tend to his farmland near Gaza City. The second, Mahmoud Ali Jarghoun was near the southern border town of Rafah when Israeli soldiers shot him in the pelvis . The third, Anwar Mamlouk, was shot in the forehead by an Israeli sniper at a range of 1,200 meters from the border. He was also tending to his crops. 

The fourth victim, Mustafa Abu Jared, was with a group of famers on their land, 1,000 meters from the border when the Israelis opened fire. After initially running away, Mustafa returned when the firing stopped, and was shot by one bullet from a lone Israeli sniper. 

In each case, the men were not targeting the Israeli military and were merely tending to their crops, or fleeing gunfire targeting them. 

As the four killed and dozens wounded did not facilitate a reaction from the international community, something is clearly wrong. International narratives regarding ceasefire agreements are too narrowly focused on statistics and ensuring a 'negative peace’, allowing violations to become commonplace, especially with the state of Israel as a signature party.

The Israeli-controlled reality

The ceasefire agreement explicitly states that Israel should “refrain from targeting residents in the border areas” and to “stop all hostilities in the Gaza strip land, sea and air including incursions and targeting of individuals.”

Reports from inside Gaza suggest the latest violation occurred on February 12, when Israeli tanks opened fire on Palestinian farmers working east of Khan Younis, forcing them to temporarily leave their land. 

Israeli forces have also continued to invade the Gaza strip. On January 23 2013, Israeli soldiers launched an incursion into Beit Hanoun, firing several rounds of live ammunition and levelling the land with bulldozers before leaving. 

130 Palestinian civilians have been fired at, in addition to 74 injuries and four deaths, in contravention of the internationally-recognized agreement

A week earlier, reports indicated how a large swathe of agricultural land was damaged, about eight kilometers along the border fence and about 250 meters back from it. Roughly 300 dunums were reportedly razed, including wheat crops planted in December. Fields belonging to about 500 different farmers were affected, according to local officials. Farmers have attempted to approach their lands since the attack but haven’t been able to reach land closer than 100 meters from the fence due to Israeli live fire forcing them back.

In effect, the Israeli breaches of the ceasefire are synonymous with its authority over the territory. Since Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, the state unilaterally declared a 'buffer-zone’ between its border and from 300 to 1000 meters of Gazan territory. International Humanitarian Law states that “the buffer zone must be implemented in accordance with the basic principles of distinction, proportionality and precautions in and during an attack.” 

None of the above reports indicate any exercise of these criteria in implementing the buffer zone. Even recognising that Israel was acting 'outside of the ceasefire agreement’ is to further recognise Israel’s legitimacy over the buffer zone. The land, consisting of 35% of Gaza’s farmland, is owned by Palestinian farmers. Their only crime is living in these border areas. 

What’s more, under the terms of the ceasefire, the maritime boundaries of Gaza have been extended from three to six nautical miles. For four days at the end of November, 29 fishermen were arrested, 9 fishing boats compounded, and one totally destroyed. During each incident the fishermen were within the six mile limit, and often within the old three mile limit, when Israeli gunboats attacked. The fishermen were often handcuffed, blindfolded, interrogated and sometimes beaten after being made to swim to their Israeli captors. 

Only on Sunday, Occupied Palestine reported that four fishermen were kidnapped and their boat seized by the IOF forces, despite them being within the newly agreed 6-mile fishing zone. Both stories are not isolated events, but occur everyday and form part of an all too familiar story for fishermen living in Gaza, regardless of the implementation of a ceasefire or not.

According to the Israeli Sderot Media Centre, 9 rockets have been fired from Gaza into Israel since the ceasefire. Palestinian sources state this to be incorrect, claiming the figure to be zero. Interestingly Israel has moved its Iron Dome anti-rocket system to the north of the country. Sderot Media Centre’s latest article, entitled “All Quiet on the Gaza Front”, signifies the extent 'normalcy’ has taken over on the Israeli side of the border. Both actions seem to indicate that Israel feels less threatened by Gaza than it would normally be. 

Wael Abdelal, a PhD qualified lecturer living in Gaza states, “The general public opinion here is that any violation is unwelcomed, from either side.”

“The Palestinian side is wholly committed to the ceasefire. People’s attitudes towards the rockets changed completely from during the crisis [in November], until now. It depends on the context.”

Despite the evidence that Israel has 'calmed’ its attitude toward Gaza, plus the apparent adherence to non-violence by Gazans at the present time, Israeli violations still occur. 

In essence, Israel’s hegemony and de facto authority over the coastal enclave ensures that the depictions of Gaza are contorted to suit Israeli needs and enables it to continue the frequent and one-sided violations of the November ceasefire.

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