Contrary to the illusion held by many that Israel’s presence in the Gaza Strip ended with the implementation of the Disengagement Plan in 2005, to this day Israel continues to exercise control over nearly every aspect of life in Gaza, including through its control over movement and access.
Importantly, it continues to enforce restrictions on access to areas deep inside the Strip and in Gaza’s territorial waters, commonly referred to as the “Access Restricted Areas” (ARAs). Israel employs violent enforcement measures against what it perceives as breaches of its directives in the ARAs, including the use of live fire against Palestinian civilians, fishermen, herders and farmers. Over the past decade, long before the recent wave of protests, Israel’s actions in the ARAs have resulted in the death and injury of Palestinians, extensive damage to property and loss of livelihoods.
In the ARAs on land, which Israel terms “buffer zones,” the military also regularly aerially sprays herbicides that cause far-reaching damage to crops and farmlands. In the maritime ARA, which Israel calls the “fishing zone,” Israel confiscates fishing boats and other fishing equipment causing financial losses in one of the most vulnerable sectors of the Strip, pushing many people out of work.
Closing In, a new, multimedia report by the Israeli NGO Gisha launched last week, is the product of extensive research and analysis of the personal and financial price Gaza residents pay as a result of Israel’s sweeping restrictions on access to areas on land and at sea. The research is based on in-depth interviews with individuals attempting to make a living farming, herding and fishing in the Gaza Strip’s, including a focus on two groups: women farmers and herders. According to Gisha “We conclude by calling on Israel to refrain from its destructive and disproportionate actions which violate the fundamental human rights of Palestinians, including the right to life and the right to a livelihood.”