The following press release was issued by the International Solidarity Movement on 24 April 2010:
At a nonviolent demonstration attended by 150 persons this morning, against the forceful cessation of farming within what Israel defines as a “buffer zone,” two Palestinian demonstrators and one international activist were shot without warning. Israeli soldiers opened fire on the visibly unarmed demonstrators from the border fence. Nidal al-Naji (18) was shot in the right thigh. Hind al-Akra (22) was hit with shrapnel in the stomach and is undergoing emergency surgery. Bianca Zammit (28) from Malta was filming the demonstration when she was shot in her left thigh. The wounded have been treated at al-Aqsa hospital where they stayed overnight; Zammit has been kept in at al-Awda hospital for observation.
Roughly 200 demonstrators, men and woman, including six International Solidarity Movement activists, marched from al-Meghazi towards the Israeli fence closing off the Gaza Strip shortly after 11am. After being met with live ammunition upon cresting a ridge, some demonstrators continued walking forward. This group included six women, two ISM activists and approximately 30 men, roughly 20 of whom reached the border fence. At approximately 11:50am Zammit was shot while filming the demonstration between the ridge and the fence, at a distance of roughly 80-100 meters. Hind al-Akra, who was standing between the ridge and the fence, was shot in the stomach and a Nidal al-Naji was shot near the fence. Demonstrators carried the wounded back across rough terrain to taxis for transport to al-Aqsa hospital.
The nonviolent demonstrations are held in protest against the arbitrary decision by Israel to instate a 300-meter buffer zone as a no-go area for Palestinians where a shoot-to-kill policy is implemented. Different demonstrations at the crossings of Erez in Beit Hanoun, Nahal Oz, al-Atatra and Rafah now take place weekly, and are growing in number despite at least five persons being shot over the last month, some injured and killed as far as two kilometers away from the border.
The Popular Campaign for 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 more than 6,400 houses were destroyed or severely damaged during the Israeli war on Gaza which killed over 1,500 persons, mostly civilians of which more than 400 were children. Nearly 53,000 houses sustained lesser damage, hospitals, medical centers, schools, kindergartens and mosques were among the other buildings destroyed and damaged during the 23 days of bombings and ground invasion by Israel.